Latest Q&A on LG3 (Talbot Way) February 2021

The information mentions affordable housing, does this include buying schemes? Specifically the government Help to Buy scheme?

We envisage that there will be a mix of tenures on the site. The development will be likely to involve whichever government scheme is in place at the time, but we cannot confirm if Help to Buy will be still available by then.   It will include 40% affordable housing, a proportion of which will be shared ownership and socially rented, with nomination rights by North Herts District Council.

If the development were to go ahead, do you have an estimated completion date?

We are awaiting the final stages of the Local Plan process, with a report by the Government Inspector expected later this year.  Our outline planning application is solely seeking to agree the principle of the development and vehicular access from Flint Road and it is highly unlikely that our application will be agreed by North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) before the Local Plan is adopted.

If the Plan is adopted and outline planning permission granted, a further application will be required once this has been agreed, with more detailed information. We therefore would estimate that it could be two years before a start is made on site, but we are unable to confirm this or a completion date at this stage.

Just to reconfirm that all car traffic can only access the new properties by Flint Road only and there is no access whatsoever by vehicles by any other route?  This is absolutely essential and anything but this would not be acceptable for existing local residents.

Our outline planning will ask the Council’s views on the proposed access arrangements via Flint Road.  In this proposal there will be no access via Kristiansand Way, Talbot Way or Hartington Place. A traffic survey of Green Lane has been carried out, which has been presented to Hertfordshire County Council, as they are responsible for roads and transport as part of a Transport Statement that will be available to view. The Councils will decide if any further improvements are required.

I may have missed it, but assume there will be no access by foot through from Kristiansand Way to the new development - you won't be planning any kind of path through the allotments etc to get to it?  Access would only be via Flint Road or footpath 26 via Green Lane?

That is correct, our outline planning application is asking the Council’s approval for the principle of the development and vehicular access via Flint Road and a footpath link to Public Right of Way 026.  We are in discussions with the County Council about improvements to existing public footpaths nearby, but this application will not include any new access points via Kristiansand Way. We are also hoping to provide a gated footpath entrance to the Flint Road allotments, but this would be strictly for use by allotment holders only.

Appreciate planning permission is still to be submitted, but how long is the building process expected to take?  Local residents are obviously keen to understand the noise pollution aspect and extra HGV vehicles coming into the area for a long period of time.

We are awaiting the final stages of the Local Plan process, with a report by the Government Inspector expected later this year.  Our outline planning application is solely seeking to agree the principle of the development and access from Flint Road and it is highly unlikely that the to be agreed by North Hertfordshire District Council before the Local Plan is adopted.

If the Plan is adopted and outline planning permission granted, a further application will be required once this has been agreed with more detailed information.   We therefore would estimate that it may be two years before a start is made on site, but we cannot confirm this or a completion date.

If the principle of the development and the use of Flint Road is agreed by the District and County Councils a construction management plan would have to be agreed by the Council in consultation with its Environmental Health Department, which would normally include details of vehicle movements and working hours.

Interest was also expressed in the availability of plots of land, suitable for self-build and custom housebuilding. We are aware that land should be provided for self- build in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and we hope that the Heritage Foundation has taken this into account as this requirement in the act is a ‘duty to grant planning permission etc’. Relevant authorities must give suitable development permission to enough suitable serviced plots of land to meet the demand for self-build and custom housebuilding in their area. I might also add that self-build and self-reliance were amongst the founding principles of the First Garden City.

Self-building is an important issue and something that we are looking forward to making plots available for individuals and community land trust/co-operative type organisations in Letchworth.  We also surveyed every householder in Letchworth in 2018 to understand if they would be interested in self-build opportunities.

Although we are not the Planning Authority, we understand that for a site of this size self-build provision is not a requirement by the Council and is not part of these proposals.  We do however intend to incorporate self-build plots as part of the land to the north of the Grange in excess of the policy requirements if this agreed as part of the Local Plan Examination, and therefore there should be opportunities as part of that scheme.

In the meantime, anyone interested in self-build can register you can find out more on the NHDC website. 

You do not say when or at what time of day your 'detailed survey of traffic' took place, but rush hour.

We appointed Steer Transport Consultants to provide an analysis of existing traffic conditions including along Green Lane.  This was undertaken prior to lockdown in February 2020 and included the peak flow time.  This survey will be provided as part of the outline planning application, which is asking the District and County Councils to consider whether the principle of the development and the use of Flint Road is acceptable.  As part of this, they may consider that road improvements nearby are required to make the development acceptable.

Concerns about the gate into the allotments and loss of security for allotment holders

We consulted the Letchworth District Gardeners Association, whose representatives attended the consultation event in 2019, and who expressed concern about multiple access points into the allotments due to security concerns.  We amended proposals to include a single point which would be locked and only used by allotment holders and to consolidate the existing boundary with improved hedging.  Further to receiving concerns about the access, we have amended the application to say that this gate will only be incorporated if agreed by the Council as lessees of the allotment land.  We have also confirmed to the Council that we are happy to review this before any detailed proposals are submitted and if necessary, this gate can be removed from the scheme.

 We are also hoping to help provide improved WC facilities at the allotments as part of this development.

Can St Nicholas School, already over-subscribed, cope with the potential demand for places?

We have consulted with the County Council who are responsible for education and they have asked for a financial contribution to support local schooling.

I am very surprised that other locations have not been considered for development as a priority; namely brownfield sites such as the derelict Umo House on Black Horse Lane, and even areas of the Jackman's estate where many properties are unoccupied and boarded up. Surely we should be redeveloping these areas first before digging up and spoiling such a precious green space as the proposed plot. 

The decision over which sites should come forward for housing has been the subject of much debate and discussion as part of the North Herts Local Plan process, which is still not completed.  The Council in selecting land that should be allocated for housing, sought to balance green and brown field sites and the need to retain a certain amount of employment land.  This has been extensively debated in the Public Examination and written representations linked to the Local Plan and more information on this can be found on the NHDC website.

Please take into consideration the fact of all the people who live here already, so the times that the building work is taking place, the traffic volume passing our house will not cause us disturbance.  Please be fair.

If the principle of the development is agreed by the Council, a construction management plan would have to be agreed by the Council in consultation with its Environmental Health Department.  This plan would protect living conditions of existing residents that would normally include details of vehicle movements and working hours for any noisy operations.

I note that you did a “detailed survey” of traffic in the surrounding area before the first lockdown.  Are the results available for the public to view?  

A Transport Statement will be provided as part of an outline planning application that discusses the results of the surveys and related traffic impacts arising from the development. This will be available to view and comment on to assist the District and County Council’s assessment of the application.

Will Herts CC and LGCHF reinstate the Public Footpath 24, a route connecting Norton to the Greenway and Baldock which has been all but obliterated this year by the Heritage Foundation’s farming operations (contracted to Rand Brothers of Royston). It is a legal requirement to maintain this path, a point which Herts CC & LGCHF need to address. Given current inaction over the incursion from ploughing on Footpath 24, some reassurance would be welcome.

We are working with the Rights of Team at the County Council to discuss improvements to the local footpaths funded by the proposed development.  We will also look into any obligations we have for footpath repairs, which has been very challenging this winter with the wet weather conditions.

Does the proposed affordable housing comprise solely of 3-storey apartment blocks, or will it include some of the houses with gardens? How many of the flats in the five 3-storey apartment blocks will be affordable housing?

The affordable housing provision will be agreed with the Council’s Housing and Planning teams in line with their housing need requirements.  As we are very early in the process and do not have a detailed scheme, we do not know which of the units this will comprise, but we would expect this to be a combination of flats and houses.

Adjacent to LG3 is an archaeological site of national importance, comprising a Neolithic henge excavated in 2010-2015. Will there be a cast-iron guarantee that this will not be built over? The land belongs to LGCHF.

We are aware of the archaeological interest on the land to the east of the site.  We have undertaken extensive investigations and trial trenches on the proposed development site. Working with the County Council, we have agreed a number of measures before any development can commence, including an excavation of part of the site.  There are no plans to develop land to the east and, as stated, this is subject to some highly valued archaeological interest, which would prevent development taking place.

Arriva bus route 94 was withdrawn some years ago - this was a frequent and well-used service connecting Baldock, Norton, Green Lane, Jubilee retail site, Letchworth town centre and Hitchin town centre. The 94 service was replaced by the 96A -  a much-reduced service operated by Centrebus. This connects with Arlesey and Stotfold. There are 5 buses each weekday, with only 3 going direct to Letchworth town centre. On Saturday, the service is reduced to 3 buses, with no Sunday service. In other words, Norton and Green Lane currently have a significantly poorer bus service than previously.

We will be making financial contributions for sustainable transport to the County Council as part of the development proposals if approved, but do not envisage that the development would lead to the reintroduction of the bus services mentioned.

Concern about existing access from Madden Gardens and how additional use from Blackhorse Road will increase add to existing issues, including the steel cabinets and poor visibility from Madden Gardens.

The verges and design of the existing access on to Madden Gardens are the responsibility of the District and County Councils. However, the application will provide an opportunity for the Councils to review the implications of the development being accessed via Flint Road, including an intensification of this road and its impact on adjoining junctions.

Blackhorse Road already has significant issues with vehicles backing up for the recycling centre.

Following comments about the volume of traffic to the recycling centre, we carried out a survey at different times over a one week period to understand the extent of this.  We understand that the increase in traffic has been exacerbated by Covid restrictions on the use of the recycling centre.  This survey will be given to the County Council Highways to consider as part of the outline planning application. This is also referred to in the Transport Statement, as part of their review on the suitability of Flint Road for access.

The information indicates that the 3 storey blocks are located away from the eastern boundary of the site, which is not the case.

The layout provided is illustrative to give an indicative how the site may be developed but does show that the closest 3 story block to the eastern boundary of the site will be over 20m.

How many houses are proposed, as the numbers appear to be misleading?

The Local Plan policy provides a guide of 120 homes.  The illustrative layout includes a combination of homes and apartments and indicates a total of 128 homes, which we believe is a density in keeping with the surrounding area.  Should outline permission be granted for this proposal a further application will need to eb submitted that will show the precise details of what is proposed.

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