Letter from Michael G Camp

Dear Sir

Many concerned residents will no doubt be responding to the draft housing development plan during this short consultation period.  But how can we be sure that, despite our combined efforts, true democracy will prevail when the final decision is taken by councillors?  We read about controversies that seem to surround recent council deliberations and, perhaps more disturbing, we hear about the party whip being applied, with sanction threatened against any who abstained or worse still dared to vote against, when councilors voted on 27th November to put the plan to public consultation.  So can we be assured that, when councillors decide on this most important issue, each and every one will be voting according to his/her own judgment and conscience on what is best for each community in North Herts rather than as their political party dictates?

In any case it now seems we have to also campaign against Herts County Council keen to sell land they own around Baldock.  There is little doubt that HCC would wish to maximise the value of the land by promoting the most extensive housing development that will be most attractive to a hungry developer.  Most, if not all, the affected land to the north-east of the town is designated green belt but that will be lost forever.  But as a soft option, with a landowner ready and willing to sell, it seems that the shade of this area of green belt is much paler than may exist elsewhere in the District.  From what we have heard at recent meetings we can be left doubting whether officers and consultants employed to prepare the plan (at what cost already to our council tax?) have fully researched and enquired into what other land may be available to develop.

The impact on this one small, historic market town, potentially seeing growth of around 80%, will be tremendous particularly affecting its character, traffic flows on already heavily congested roads, restricted parking and at least in the short term grossly over-subscribed schools and limited health facilities.  The town has already seen growth of over 40% during the last 40 years.

It seems no attempt has yet been made to measure existing traffic volumes on town and nearby major routes to determine the effect a potential increase of 5,000 vehicles or more will have.  Recent house building in Stotfold, Arlesey and Letchworth GC may well be why we have seen a considerable increase in traffic entering Baldock from Norton Road, but without measurement we do not know.  Yet together with increased parking following restrictions imposed elsewhere, it progressively affects our ability to travel to and from our homes in this corner of the town.  Is this the pattern of what we shall all face, only much, much worse, during the next 20 years or so if this plan is adopted in its current form?  We should all therefore be very concerned and make appropriate response during this consultation period.

Michael G Camp

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