Councillor David Levett’s Response To Our Letter

Thank you for your correspondence with regard to the North Hertfordshire Local Plan ‘Preferred Options’

Tomorrow evening (Thursday 27th November) Full Council will meet at North Herts Leisure Centre to discuss as one of the items the report on the ‘Preferred Options’.

There does at the moment seem to be a degree of misunderstanding as to exactly what Council will be voting on and would like to take the opportunity to clarify that.

Council will NOT be agreeing Housing Numbers

Council will NOT be agreeing to allocate specific sites.

Council will NOT be agreeing to change the Greenbelt

What Council is being asked to do tomorrow is purely to agree to put into the public realm for consultation a document that all of the 130,000 residents of North Hertfordshire can have a chance to comment on.

The results of this consultation will influence what will eventually go in to the version of the Local Pan that will be put forward for adoption.

This is a starting point to allow that formal process to go ahead – we as a District Council are required by the Government to produce a Local Plan based on parameters set out by them and which we are obliged by legislation to follow. The document that has been published has been compiled taking all those factors into account

The consultation process is the formal means for all of you to have your say and allow us on the Council as your elected representatives to ensure that the final version of the Local Plan reflects those views and can be backed up with sound evidence of public involvement.

Please take the opportunity during the consultation period for all of you to let us have those views, they will all be considered and please be assured that they can and will influence the next version of the Local Plan.

The more people who respond the better, the future of North Herts should, I believe, be guided by all residents of North Herts not just on the opinions of the few or by some anonymous being in Whitehall.

The clue is in the title – This is a Local Plan – let the Local People decide.


Councillor David Levett

Portfolio Holder for Planning and Enterprise,

North Hertfordshire District Council


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5 Responses to Councillor David Levett’s Response To Our Letter

  1. Councillor David Levett - Portfolio Holder for Planning and Enterprise says:

    With only a few days to go until the end of this consultation period I would like to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time and trouble to respond to the consultation, post comments on line, email myself and fellow Councillors, attend public meetings, join in with marches and in any way make you views known.

    I would also like to take the opportunity to give my own personal response, which does not necessarily reflect the views of North Hertfordshire District Council, to some of the issues that have arisen during the process. Some of the comments should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt.

    Firstly let me set the record straight on the alleged “backburner” quote I made at Cabinet reported in last weeks Comet relating to a new Garden City. I said nothing of the sort (it’s not a phrase I would use for a start), the reporter who wrote the article was not even at the meeting.

    What I actually said was we had looked at the idea (it’s evidenced in the supporting documents), but as no suitable site had been identified in North Hertfordshire (and we did indeed as some suggest approach South Cambs. who did not want to know) it was not deliverable in the 2011- 2031 plan period but would continue to look at the idea.
    In the meantime, as I have mentioned at several of the public meetings and have been actively promoting, maybe some of the larger sites could via the masterplan for that development adopt a “garden village” approach. I think I may even have mentioned it at the Baldock meeting on 9th January. The idea must have some good points as others have picked up on it and promoted the idea.

    With regard to “brownfield sites” (or to give it it’s proper name – “previously developed land”) we have perhaps enough for a few hundred homes, certainly not enough to go anywhere close to satisfying our housing need by any significant amount. The largest one that was put forward recently being the George King site in Letchworth which has in fact recently received planning permission. The objectors to that scheme were local business owners who didn’t want the loss of employment land and were concerned that they would get complaints from the new occupants about noise from the factories.
    One of the business owners made the argument following the planning meeting that farming is an industry too therefore any agricultural land in the greenbelt or elsewhere should be regarded as “previously developed land” as its not part of the natural landscape. Interesting point of view but I don’t think he will get too may agreeing with him, me included!

    Coming back to the New Garden City idea, the size of any brand new development as currently being championed to be viable and sustainable and provide sufficient payback to fund the required infrastructure would need to be provide homes for a population of around 30,000 people over approx. 15- 20years – which happens to be the almost same number Ebenezer Howard put forward in his concept for a Garden City (32,000 population on 6,000 acres (2428 hectares).
    Letchworth Garden City at the 2011 census had a population of 33,249 and 14,271 dwellings on 2012 hectares.

    Howards other criteria for the site were that it should be close to or adjacent to a main line railway, should be capable of an economical drainage system and be near to London or some other large area of labour. It should also be built ‘on prime rural land’ in order to reduce land costs and make building easier.
    Another part of Howards concept that most people conveniently ignore is that Letchworth was to be the first of a ring of 6 such garden cities surrounding a ‘Central City’ of 58,000, (not far removed from the original planned population of Stevenage of 60,000 which is now 84,000) the whole integrated cluster to have a population of 250,000 which would ‘bring the benefit of a range of services and leisure activities available to a population of 250,000’

    North Hertfordshire at 2011 census had a population of 127,114, or 54,962 homes projected with current Local Plan to be around 153,400 or 67,087 homes.

    New Garden City still sounding such a good idea?

    With regard to the bigger view on the infrastructure, I sit as a member on the Hertfordshire Infrastructure Planning Partnership (HIPP) which is a body that is made up of officers and Members from all the Hertfordshire local authorities, Herts County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). HIPP gathers and shares information on how our Local Plans are developing and uses this to develop strategic plans in association with the relevant responsible bodies what infrastructure will be needed in the wider area and for which the LEP can apply for government funding.

    Hope some of the above re-assures you that the Local Plan is not just something that’s been put together without thought for the future and will help deliver the best for North Hertfordshire in the long term.


    Cllr David Levett

    • Adrienne Waterfield says:

      Speaking personally, I think it is dangerous at this critical stage in the consultation, to get side-tracked into whether or not we should be building on Garden City principles. It is an important and attractive point, but not for now.
      The first questions we need to be commenting on before Friday are …How many houses? …Where should they go?…Will it be sustainable?.. Should we plan for a new settlement?..Where?…What are the timescales?
      Regardless of whether it follows Garden City principles or not.

  2. Christine says:

    Last night Levett told us it was NOT A GOOD PLAN. How DARE he put it forward then?

    He’s now put us in the position of having to do in seven weeks over Christmas what he and his team have patently failed to do, with all their resources, in two years. How caring is that?
    Arrant stupidity.

  3. Jane neal says:

    What we want to highlight is that the District Council are determined to put forward a plan which is fundamentally flawed. We know that what is needed is a balanced but enhancing documented draft local plan, indicative of all the requirements of North Hertfordshire that can be submitted for consultation, agreed and acted upon. What we don’t need is to consult on a document that nobody wants the council to submit, except those who benefit from the Millions of pounds in land sale.

  4. Julian Richards says:

    What an arrogant LITTLE man. He tries to be clever by playing with words – believing the great unwashed can be hoodwinked. Like most of his colleagues at NHDC, though, he doesn’t give a damn about the electorate. The decision HAS been made and Cllrs WILL agree to Baldock development to protect their own political positions. We will have to fight them hard to win this – but Needham and her chums won’t play fair!

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