Report highlights key themes of community consultation on proposed development sites

The Foundation has published the results of phase 2 of our housing consultation, which ran from spring to the end of July 2019. The focus of the consultation was to gather feedback, ideas and views on the Foundation’s largest proposed housing development sites in Letchworth, as set out in the North Herts Local Plan. These are known as LG1; land north of the Grange Estate and LG3; land east of Talbot Way and Kristiansand Way.

Themes and highlights

The engagement sought views from residents at sessions that were held around the town as well as local events for those closest to the main sites.  Here is a summary of the key themes and findings:

  • The town-wide feedback included a good response rate from 25 to 34-year-olds, as well as older age categories.
  • Parks and green space were considered the most important elements for the development of LG1, while affordable housing, parks and green space and links to the countryside scored highest for LG3 in the town wide consultation.
  • Those who attended sessions at the Grange said affordable housing, health services, car parking and improved public transport should be part of this new housing scheme.
  • Sixty per cent of Grange respondents said they would use buses if better services were provided.
  • Affordable housing, highways improvements and links to the countryside were the most important aspects of the proposed development for residents closest to LG3.
  • Residents close to both LG1 and LG3 recognised the need for private owner occupier housing as part of these proposals.
  • The town wide transport survey revealed that approximately half of the respondents travel to work by car due to insufficient public transport and cycling facilities. 
  • Respondents also highlighted the challenges they face with services that do not run at the right time and how having frequent public transport services would encourage greater use.

Addressing concerns

We spoke to some people who had strong views about the proposed development who voiced concerns about potential issues such as increased traffic and parking. Some people are concerned about any expansion around the perimeter of Letchworth and do not agree with our proposal to build on Green Belt land.

Additional themes emerging from the feedback include the importance of keeping the ‘Garden City feel’ and retaining a sense of countryside and open spaces.

There was recognition that this development will benefit Letchworth residents who would like to see housing for the next generation to live close to family and there was strong local support for social housing.

The density of any future housing was considered important, with requests for ample space between houses. Progressive ideas were shared around eco approaches and making the overall scheme more carbon efficient.

The full report can be read on our website as well as the findings from Phase 1 of our consultation.

All the feedback we received has been read and collated.  We are grateful to everyone who took the time to share their views and ideas, which will help inform any future development.

A look back at our community engagement programme

The consultation included a programme of 12 pop-up events in areas of high footfall in the town and in neighbourhoods close to the proposed developments. These provided an opportunity for the community to meet members of our team, as well as experts on transport and the environment. Those who came to the events were able to find out more information, view plans and leave feedback on the proposed sites and on considerations of importance. Surveys were available to fill out as hard copies and via the Foundation’s website. We wanted to hear the views of people of all ages, so we worked with local schools to involve children and young people in our conversations and we also held sessions with older people.

A competition to ‘Reimagine’ the Garden City

Our engagement activities took place alongside the Re-imagining the Garden City design competition, run by the Heritage Foundation and the Royal Institute of British Architects in autumn 2018.  The competition called for design concepts for modern day Garden City living from architects and designers from around the world.

The response was incredible - we received 95 entries from around the world, including Australia, France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Thailand, the UK and America. We were very pleased with the quality of the entries, which we explored in greater detail with the community, looking at how our proposed future housing development at the LG1 site north of the Grange Estate could be the best it could possibly be.

The public vote was part of the judging process that confirmed the ‘Grange in the Hedges’ entry by Eco Responsive Environments as the winner.  Voters and judges felt they demonstrated a holistic and sustainable approach to modern Garden City design.  We now look forward to working with the winners to help develop our vision for the site.

Next steps

Although our formal consultation has concluded, we remain committed to having discussions with the community and working transparently. The Foundation’s development plans are currently on hold pending the outcomes of forthcoming enquiries into the Local Plan.  In the meantime, we will be examining some of the key topics and themes that came out of our recent conversations with the local community.  This includes working with our technical team, the District and County Councils and local bus providers to examine options for a transport strategy for the LG1 site.

Keep an eye on our dedicated webpage for more information. 

Phase two community consultation report