Summary –

The Parish of Bygrave will clearly be affected by the proposed over-development of Baldock from the building of housing on the Blackhorse Farm site. The Bygrave Parish Council have already submitted a letter of objection to the District Council citing the effects of the proposed Blackhorse Farm Development on the local  environment and infrastructure and of the unfairness of the housing allocation to Baldock.

This weeks activities –

bygr2A number of Bygrave residents attended the meeting at ‘Taste’ on Friday evening. Pauline West (19 Ashwell Road) and Jane Neal (18 Ashwell Road)  have some A4 flyers if you would like to collect them for either putting in your window or car and handing around to increase awareness of the proposal. The residents have also signed a second letter of petition which will be delivered to the Council offices on Monday. One Bygrave resident is investigating the effects of the development on the local flora and fauna specific to the Blackhorse Farm area, and another is helping erect a number of posters along the road side of the village.

Things you can do as a resident –

  • Write to Councillors, MP’s and local papers before the 24th of November (addresses are on the main Save Rural Baldock web site)
  • We have made it very easy to send an email to all the relevant people..
    Click here to automatically fill in your email fields
  • Increase awareness to as many people as possible and hand out flyers/place them where possible
  • If you can, please attend meetings at the council offices in Gernon Road, Letchworth on the 24th and 27th November, full details to be published on the website site nearer the date
  • Be prepared to start the petition process again after the council meeting on the 27th November
  • Email to any suggestions, ideas or information you would like to share

General Information – 

Please see  copy of the petition to be handed in on 10th November


Mr John Wood, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire County Council

Mr David Levett, Portfolio Holder for Planning & Enterprise, North Herts. District Council

Re: Draft Housing Allocations for North Hertfordshire Local Plan

Dear Sirs

I am writing to submit my objection as a resident of the Parish of Bygrave to the proposed draft Local Plan and the designation of Green Belt land to be allocated as housing sites within the parishes of Baldock and Bygrave.

The spatial strategy of the plan does not address the fundamental question of how much development is needed to meet local needs and where these needs are required. Can it be fair, proportionately,  for Baldock and Bygrave to have 3591 houses from the alleged 12100 required by North Hertfordshire (i.e. 30% of the total allocation)?

The Blackhorse Farm site in the plan will be a new settlement, with new infrastructure required and the updating of old, requiring the destruction of natural habitat and a burden on the existing environment and structures. How does this satisfy the requirement of ‘effective use’ of land by re-using land that has been previously developed?  The plan clearly contravenes the whole ‘Sustainable Community Strategy’ encouraged by the National Planning Policy Framework. The allocated site does not promote and improve the economic, social and environmental well being of the area at all.

How does the plan ensure the vitality of Baldock Town centre, when you plan to build a complete new town centre with shops and factories?  The town centre of Baldock will be grid locked with cars and empty of amenities and the already abandoned industrial areas around Baldock exacerbated by the development of more empty industrial warehouses. It is difficult to see how this new settlement development will overall move the area from a net loss of biodiversity to a net gain.

The destruction and reallocation of the Green Belt land contradicts the current Green Belt Policy and quick reclassification of this area does not mitigate the fact that the plan uses Green Belt land and joins two settlements together. Moreover the destruction of the productive agricultural land will not support ‘economic growth’ in a rural area nor does it create jobs and prosperity by sustainable development.

In addition to the plan not supporting sustainable development it also does not support sustainable transport. The new road network, major junctions extensions to existing roads and the associated utilities and services required for the Blackhorse site burdens the local area rather than reducing the need for major transport infrastructure.

If we used the housing requirements actually needed by North Herts. then the infill sites already identified would satisfy these requirements whilst also reducing the need for major infrastructure development. The North Herts. housing quota could also be satisfied if there was a fairer proportional allocation applied between the towns of Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock, together with the site west of Stevenage that is already placed on the reserve list satisfying all the criteria required for development.

Yours Faithfully

Address Signature Signature


Bygrave Parish Council

Save Rural Baldock


Loss of habitat for farmland birds –


A local birder who, for the last 7 years, has carried out a number of bird surveys around Baldock for the British Trust for Ornithology, commented on the effect of the proposed development on farmland birds:

“The facts are that farmland birds are in decline. Of the RSPB’s top ten ‘​most wanted’ farmland birds (ie. in decline), I have recorded evidence of 8 of these in that area (grey partridge, skylark, corn bunting, lapwing, yellow wagtail, linnet, yellowhammer and reed bunting). The two I haven’t seen are turtle dove (but others have recorded it in Bygrave) and tree sparrow. All these farmland birds show significant, long term decline – grey partridge down 56% in the last 17 years, skylark down 24% and corn bunting down 39%. Not a great story, and one not helped by losing even more farmland to housing”

7 Responses to

  1. Jane neal says:

    We should also attend the meeting of the council’s cabinet ( 8 councillors) on 24th November . They will recommend what the council should do. The meeting on 27th is of the whole council where all 49 councillors can speak and vote. This is where the decision will be made apparently (if it hasn’t been made already). Apparently on the 27th they will also discuss the Councillors remuneration package which I am sure they are all very excited about given the amount of money North Herts will make from developing the Green Belt land north of Baldock. Perhaps a little will be put aside to relocate the remains of the lepers to Baldock cemetary !

  2. Albert Sillwood says:

    recent email sent to the Mercury, the Comet, the SRB email list and Eric Pickles.

    Walking the Baldock 3500 houses boundary

    A few weeks ago, a walk was taken around the boundary of the proposed 3479 houses (on 174 hectares / 435 Acres of productive farmland known as Bygrave Common) to the north of Baldock. It took 2 hours to cover the 4 mile (6 km) perimeter (taking photos).
    The walk started at Baldock railway bridge, walking 2km along Royston Road to the Bypass roundabout (past the land proposed for industrial use in the 2013 housing plan).

    From there the public footpath was taken across the Baldock to Ashwell railway line, to the Bygrave Road past the local farmer planting his winter crops. Then up the fields boundary and down to the Drain ditch (1km). To the right, there was a good view across the freshly ploughed field to the main road through Bygrave. So close to the village.

    I understand the sewage from the Bygrave houses not on septic tanks, flows from Bygrave along the Drain ditch to the Baldock pumping station at Ivel Springs. From there it is pumped under the football ground up to Norton, where it flows by gravity down to Letchworth sewage works north of Stand Alone Farm.

    From the Drain ditch, the route was 2km up and west across the freshly ploughed fertile fields of Bygrave Common, past Ivel Grange farm, to North Road. Then 1km down North Road (with the land for the 3479 houses on Bygrave Common on the left [east]) back to Baldock Railway Bridge, 2 hours and 4 miles (6km) later.

    With 3479 houses on Bygrave common, some of the foul water will flow along the Drain ditch to Baldock Sewage pumping station close to Ivel Springs on the right (west), and thence to Letchworth. Likewise the surface water runoff that currently soaks into the green fields, will also flow to the Ivel Springs, into the river Ivel.

    During the walk the local OS (Ordnance Survey) map was used. Looking at the map, it is easy to see why 45% of the new 10,000 houses are to be built in Baldock. Hitchin has grown up around the railway line, as have Letchworth and Baldock. There are almost continuous houses from Hitchin, through Letchworth to the east side of Baldock, with only small green spaces separating them.
    It looks like NHDC Planners are simply extending the housing conurbation to the east of Baldock.

    Eventually they (the NHDC planners) may subsume Bygrave into the North Herts housing conurbation (2031 – 2050?), and perhaps even spread to the Ashwell Station area with its excellent road connections and station (with extendable platforms?). Welcome to New Ashwell (or perhaps Jesterville?) in 2050, or earlier?

    While walking around the 174 hectares (435 acres) of HCC (Hertfordshire County Council) land, thoughts turned to the value of agricultural land with planning permission. At an estimated value of £100k per acre, it seems HCC is destined to receive a windfall of £43m for the 435 acres (174 hectares). Assuming the HCC land really belongs to the residents (voters & taxpayers) of Hertfordshire, will the residents see any benefit from HCC’s £43m windfall. Likewise the builders will make a profit from selling the 3479 houses (£100k per house?), and NHDC will receive council tax (£1500 per annum?) from the extra 3479 houses.

    Nice to see the road under (and to the north of ) Baldock railway bridge has recently been resurfaced.
    Looking forward to hearing the 2014 NHDC housing plans on Thurs, Nov 27th, 7.30pm, Letchworth offices.

    Albert Sillwood

    • D L J Hughes farms says:

      Albert, when you walked along the Royston rd to the round about east of the town, before you crossed the Royston road twards the railway on your right is a man made hill , made up of the spoil out of the tunnel threw Weston hills.
      I used to farm this field called hospital close, on the corner they found the leper grave yard, I visited the site to look and there were 12 0dd shallow graves. We were asked by council to keep this under our hats to :stop detectorists:, out of respect this was done. The next few days were spent covering the area with soil. A week or two later i was told by council keeping quiet was nothing to do with detecting it was actually to do with the cost of relocating the bodies to Baldock cemetery! . so they still lay there

      • Albert Sillwood says:

        The mound is a good place to take in / photograph the full amount of farmland that will be covered by houses. Perhaps 12 crosses should be placed on the mound.
        Is there an antiquities society which would be interested in this information, or Baldock museum.

    • Albert Sillwood says:

      I popped into an estate agent in Baldock today,
      and received an estimate of £400k to £500k per acre for land with building permission.
      At 2.5 acres to a hectare, that would be £1m to £1.25m per Hectare.
      The 174 hectares would therefore be worth at least £174m to HCC.

    • Albert Sillwood says:

      In my letter to the Mercury, the comment regarding more housing around Ashwell Station was just a thought about the future. It now transpires that NHDC have twice tried to discuss building more houses around Ashwell Station with the South Cambridgeshire Council, who own some / all of this land. I understand South Cambs have replied that they do not need new houses in this area at the moment and NHDC should try again in 10 years time – even though this area has excellent road and rail connections to places of employment. So no New Ashwell garden city for at least 10 years.

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