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Aspenden Road Development

On Wednesday 8th January, East Herts District Council Development Committee discussed the application to build 56 houses opposite Watermill Industrial Estate off Aspenden Road. BCS, BARD and Aspenden Parish Council are united in opposition to the development proposal as we believe the developer is taking advantage of the lack of a ‘Local Plan’ and that the road is unsuitable. Public representatives are allowed 3 minutes to set out their case. This is what we said:

“Here we are again. Considering another application for a development in Buntingford on land outside the Town boundary and currently classified as Rural Land beyond the Green Belt. Like the two previous applications this is contrary to policy GBC3 of the adopted Local Plan, as is clearly recognised at paragraph 7.1 of the Officer’s report before you. We maintain this application is similarly premature and should await the publication of the District Plan.

The public enquiry into the Hare Street Road developments explored many of the arguments applicable to this proposal and by mid-February we will all have the benefit of the Inspector’s decision. Therefore, it seems premature for the Officer to argue, as in paragraphs 7.13 to 7.16, that this application should be approved. Surely, to say ‘a decision not to support this proposal is not likely to be supported at appeal’ is quite unreasonable given the closeness of the Hare Street Road appeal result.

The most worrying aspect of this application is the proposed access via Aspenden Road. Highways have conceded the need for widening the road to 4.8m but this is only partially satisfied by the Applicants’ revised submission. They fail to address the main hazard, the narrowest section, the blind downhill bend between Fairfield junction and the site entrance. They further suggest that the pavement provides good access to Buntingford and public transport. Not so. Walkers – families, school children, parents with pushchairs and those less mobile – will negotiate a footpath, often less than 1.5m wide, where people cannot pass without stepping into the road. The additional bridge and footpath link to Aspenden is unnecessary. What is needed, however, is a safe road crossing and improved pedestrian access to Buntingford.

The people of Buntingford and Aspenden are the locals in Localism. We are not trying to stand still but we are tired of opportunistic developers. Through our emerging Neighbourhood Plan we are responding to the call to shape our community. We need your support to manage future development sensitively. Therefore I urge you to refuse this application or, at the very least, defer it until you have satisfied yourselves by a site visit and until we have the appeal Inspector’s decision. Whatever you decide you must ensure that Aspenden Road is SAFE for ALL who use it.”

I am pleased to report that a sizeable majority of committee members agreed with our views and supported the proposal from Cllr Stan Bull to defer the application. So we live to fight another day. I know how tempting it is to believe that no matter what we say or do the planners will have their way, but look at the facts of the last few months – we are making our views heard effectively. So come on, join in, and make sure your representatives know YOUR opinion.

Paul Spears, Aspenden


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