Should more homes be built in Letchworth Garden City?
Local Plan Update from the Garden City Meeting - 6 May 2014
Local Plan Housing Decision is Announced - 11 Dec 2013
Following the recent town-wide dialogue Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation has decided to allow the site north of the Grange Estate to move forward to the next stage of North Hertfordshire District Council’s (NHDC) Local Plan process.
NHDC will now consider the site as a potential location for the building of 1,000 new homes in the period up to 2031. The Council is required to allocate land for at least 10,700 new homes across the district during that time, as part of its draft Local Plan, which will be subject to consultation early next year.
Heritage Foundation Chief Executive, John Lewis, said of the decision: “Having considered all the issues and following a wide-ranging and comprehensive dialogue with the public, we feel the building of these homes will provide much needed affordable housing for local people and help ensure the future prosperity of Letchworth.
“We appreciate that some residents have concerns about the development, although many want to see new homes built. The town-wide dialogue has helped us to understand and take people’s concerns on board.
“It is important to us that the Garden City’s founding principles of good design, low housing density and sustainability shape any future developments. If the site is adopted as part of the Local Plan we will ensure issues raised such as transport and the Greenway are addressed.”
Due to the importance of the decision for the town, the Heritage Foundation wrote to every home and business and held an extensive town-wide dialogue to encourage people to share their views in person, via letter, email, web form or social media. There was also online research, with people drawn from all areas of the town and representing all age groups.
During the 12-day dialogue 673 residents visited the Community Hub exhibition outlining the potential development. Alongside the conversations at the exhibition a further 501 written comments were received from families and individuals via comment cards, email, forum posts, Facebook and letters. We also received two petitions against the possible development, with 1,000 names, which were carefully considered. The independent online research involved 349 residents.
The University of Hertfordshire, who facilitated the exhibition and wider dialogue, then reviewed and processed the feedback and research results.
The responses from residents and online research generated a wide range of views, the main points included:
- 68% were supportive of the need for additional housing in Letchworth in the online market research; 51% favoured the option of building on industrial land/brownfield sites; 63% were supportive of building on the site North of the Grange Estate, 37% were opposed
- 120 written comments stated it is important to preserve Green Belt land, backed by 63% of people in the online research
- Many people offered conditional support, on the basis that concerns were addressed. The main concern given by residents in comments overall was the potential transport and traffic impact of any new development. The second most frequent concern expressed was the potential building on farmland
- Among other opinions expressed were: the desire for any new housing to reflect local needs; concerns about the impact on the Greenway; inadequate infrastructure; deviating from the Garden City model and a desire for good design.
If development of the site went ahead it would involve the use of 111 acres of Grade 2 agricultural land, this is 4.5% of the land currently farmed in Letchworth (2,421 acres).
As part of the NHDC Local Plan the Heritage Foundation has already agreed six sites, which include brownfield sites, with the potential for an additional 500 homes. These include the former Geo W King site in Blackhorse Road, which was frequently mentioned by respondents as having the potential for development and the Heritage Foundation is already in discussions with a developer to get this underway.
If approved, new homes to the north of the Grange Estate would be built at a lower density than recent development in the town, and in line with the Heritage Foundation’s Design Principles for new developments.
The Heritage Foundation has pledged to retain and enhance the Greenway should the development north of the Grange go ahead, ensure that the impact of additional traffic on the local area and town as a whole is minimised and will also work with the community, the local authorities and local Housing Associations to ensure a development of this site helps to meet local needs.
All the sites will now be considered by NHDC for inclusion in the Local Plan, which will be the subject of a full public consultation, expected early next year.
If you wish your comments to remain anonymous, please use our online form to supply your feedback.