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Once again I must start my report with news of more dwellings in Buntingford being allowed on appeal. A development of 43 homes on land designated for commercial use adjacent to Park Farm has been allowed on appeal despite it being recommended for refusal by EHDC. The fact that it goes against the emerging EHDC local plan and also the Buntingford and Community Area Neighbourhood Plan was not sufficient to stop the Inspector from finding in favour of 'sustainable development' because of EHDC's inability to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.

I do have a problem with this - the issue I have is with the word 'sustainable'. As far as I am concerned any further development in Buntingford is patently not sustainable. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines sustainable development thus:

"There are three dimensions to sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. These ... give rise to the need for the planning system to perform a number of roles: an economic role ... a social role ... and an environmental role ... These roles should not be undertaken in isolation, because they are mutually dependent."

Surely on this basis any further development in Buntingford is economically, socially and environmentally unsustainable? Inspectors seem not to understand or want to recognise this.

To rub salt into the wounds, according to an agenda item for the next East Herts Council District Planning Executive Panel they now have a new approach to Master Town Planning defined as follows:

"Throughout the development of the Plan the Council has made it clear that it is seeking to ensure that development of the highest quality comes forward, fully supported by infrastructure and delivering a range of aspirations that the Council and the community in general has about the benefits to be delivered as part of development."

"These aspirations can be best identified and achieved through a collaborative master planning approach to the bringing forward of sites for development."

Very laudable - and exactly what we asked for in Buntingford three years ago. None of the above has been applied in Buntingford, with piecemeal speculative development allowed through the strict application of the NPPF which just happens to be a developers charter! Master Town Planning - wouldn't that have been a good idea for Buntingford!

Graham Bonner, Chairman, Buntingford Civic Society

If you have any queries about Buntingford Civic Society or issues you would like to raise, you can email the Chairman direct at chairman@buntingfordcivic.org.uk.

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