July 12th Meeting KTS

The meeting at KTS was well attended.

Jim McNally was in the chair and introduced Rev Andrew Holford to talk about the recently formed Baldock and Bygrave Planning Group (BBPLAN website) of which he is the Chairman.  This group has the brief to develop a Neighbourhood Plan which will have legal weight and which will have to be considered alongside the Local Plan by future developers.  The group needs as many members from all age groups as possible, to make it work.

Councillor David Levett announced and explained the Local Plan.  He started by going over old ground about the need for a Local Plan to stop developers from asking for planning permission at random which, he said, would result in a hotch potch of developers building with no thought of the impact on the existing town of Baldock and none of the much-needed infrastructure.

Mr Levett announced that all the big locations from the Preferred Options plan of 2015 will go through to the Local Plan, including the 3,436 dwellings proposed for Baldock,  although he said they wouldn’t necessarily all get built on.  Maybe no interested developers would come forward?!!  He went through the provisos which have been put on planning permissions for the large site north of Baldock for 2,800 saying that these rules had been devised due to comments from residents last year (8,332 in all N Herts , 1256 in Baldock).  These can all be viewed on our website or that of the NHDC along with the whole document.

Christine Watson, on behalf of Save Rural Baldock, reminded us that we must respond to the Plan when the time comes which is currently scheduled for September.  We need to send our comments on the plan and these will be forwarded to the Inspector.  Don’t hold back.  Our comments appear to have been heeded last time and there are still lots of things to query and protest about.  Christine urged us to re-register with the NHDC website to enable us to send comments.  She told us to keep an eye on the www.saveruralbaldock.co.uk website for information and help in this respect.

Jim then opened the meeting to the floor and there was a stream of concerns voiced by the general public.  Here are some of the questions raised: When would all the necessary infrastructure be put in place? Where would the link road pass? If a bypass were built round the north where would its junctions be? How could NHDC offer Green Belt for development? What would be the timeline of building things like schools and how would Baldock manage in the meantime? How many schools, and what types, would be built where? Would the railway provision, access and parking be improved to cope with the enormous inevitable increased commuter population? Wouldn’t the price of houses be pushed up by these commuters? Would there be public transport to this huge new area? How could local people afford the likely houses once built, especially our youngsters? How would residents get into the town when already the main access roads are a nightmare of heavy traffic especially at the traffic lights? How can the councillors make a considered judgement on whether or not to accept the Local Plan on July 20th when they do not have all the information?

** If anyone can recall other questions asked please do post them as they’re all good starting points for discussion.

Many attendees clearly felt that these questions had been raised before with no success. The general feeling was that Baldock has huge transport and road problems already which need to be dealt with BEFORE any further development goes ahead.

No one remembered to ask what would be done to provide employment in Baldock for these new residents.  Most people accept that more housing is needed but do not feel that this quantity is needed in Baldock. Jim McNally closed the meeting at 9.00pm.

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