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‘Have A Voice – and Demand Answers!’

At last we know. Informed sources advise that senior planning officers and our elected representatives have a ‘vision’ for East Herts. That vision is as a ‘dormitory district’! This weak concept (supporting London mainly) may hold good for towns that have well- developed transport systems and, of course, railway stations. But there is no realistic way in which Buntingford could fulfil the demands of being a ‘dormitory town’ on the scale of developments proposed by builders and land owners. The reason is simple: Buntingford lacks a comprehensive bus service and is almost totally private car dependent.

It is time that East Herts produced an interim District Plan and undertakes wide-scale consultation. The excuses for delay are creating situations where developers will exploit the numerous gaps in the National Planning Policy Framework regulations.

Buntingford Civic Society, BARD, the Chamber of Commerce and the Town Council have together developed a clear ‘vision’ and professionally appraised development strategy for Buntingford. East Herts District Council should catch-up!

Derek K Cooper,

Chairman, Buntingford Civic Society

P.S: At the 22nd May Development Control Committee meeting at Wallfields, Mr. Kevin Steptoe informed District Councillors ‘if they [i.e. housing developments] are not in Buntingford they must be somewhere else’. This was said during a discussion on the proposals to develop both north and south of Hare Street Road.

‘‘Localism’ ignores local opinion’

The importance of community involvement in the planning system was put under the spotlight on 13th May at a debate of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies.

Civic Voice President, Griff Rhys Jones, speaking on behalf of communities, said: ‘With the localism agenda, what the Government is essentially saying is, we want you to get involved, decide what you want locally, but oh, for the really important decisions we are going to ignore you and do what we want. I am sorry, but that is just not good enough.’

Planning Minister, Nick Boles MP, who also addressed the meeting, said: ‘When talking about neighbourhood planning in the early days, maybe a fault of the Government was allowing people to believe they could do what they want, when in reality it has always been about how things will be delivered, not what would be delivered.’

Laura Sandys MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies, said: ‘I think as a movement we now need to feedback to the Minister our thoughts on how communities can influence the planning system further.’

Civic Voice is calling on all communities to submit ideas on how communities could have a greater say in the planning system. Send your ideas to:info@civicvoice.org.uk

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