Update on LA3 from the planning group
As you will already know, in December last year, Dacorum’s Development Management Committee decided to delegate plans for LA3 to planning officers, with a view to accepting them.
You will also know that, left as they are, these plans would have a considerable impact on Bourne End. We believe that the decision ignores important policies concerned with;
- safety with Hertfordshire’s Transport Plan which seeks to encourage a switch from the private car to safe sustainable transport, walking cycling and passenger transport.
- environment in the form of protection of the countryside, sustainable house building etc.
- social cohesion with the national policy to ensure inclusion and local policy to include traveller sites in new developments.
Whatever you may personally feel about policies, they form the bedrock of planning. To ignore them without evidenced reasons flies in the face of democracy.
These are the main actions we have taken:
· We raised a complaint with the council regarding the conduct of the meeting. Those who were there will be aware of many issues. One example is the barring of Gbola Adeleke, our councillor from speaking on our behalf. We were pointed to regulations which do not exist. The response to our complaint was unsatisfactory. We have asked DBC to engage an external body to review the plans and process.
· We have been in discussion with the Department of Communities, Housing and Local Government regarding the segregation of the travellers from the development. This is contrary to policy and contrary to the basis on which the land was removed from the green belt. Although, so far, the department has not been prepared to ‘take the plans in’, they are adamant that such developments should be inclusive.
· We have passed information on this matter to Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth. He leads a national strategy to tackle Gypsy, Roma and Traveller inequalities. He has currently asked for comment from the Departments of Health, Education and Communities. He also proposes raising a question on the matter more generally.
· We have used Freedom of Information and earlier DBC documentation to find evidence that the proposals regarding access to the traveller site were prejudged at an early stage by interference by members of the council.
· The Gazette has carried an open letter from our Chair regarding the claims made by the leader of the council that new traveller sites will be part of new development. We have had no reply from the leader. We are currently discussing further articles with the Gazette reporters.
· We are in discussion with a journalist from a national daily who is interested in how the traveller sites policy is being distorted in the planning process.
· We a have raised the matter with our MP, but he has yet to get back to us.
· We have demonstrated flaws in the planning process, such as the failure to produce a Community Impact Assessment, and the incomprehensible nature of the planning portal. We have raised these issues with the council.
· The plans contain an agreement to evaluate the rat running in the lanes. We have made clear that this should have taken place during preparation of plans and the conditions set in agreeing the plans.
· The developers are required to demonstrate that the modifications to Chaulden Lane will be of benefit to the community. We dispute this and made this clear to HCC Highways, and the Ministry of Transport. If the rat runs are left open Winkwell and Pouchen End will continue to be car-bound and joining them will be Buttons with its 56 houses. This makes a nonsense of the Highways Transport policy and a ‘declaration of a Climate Emergency’.
· We are liaising with Berkhamsted Town Council who are considering a walking / cycling route between Hemel and Berkhamsted. This would tie in with our ideas on lane closure.
· Until recently, we have been unable to approach the Local Government Ombudsman. This has now changed and we are preparing our case.
The planning process has lacked rigor and has failed to adhere to either these policies or the Master Plan. There is substantial evidence to show that the outcome of the application was prejudged, and the consultation process was an act of window dressing for residents who have been misled.
We will press on with all the issues above, but if all else fails we may call upon you to take more direct action. We know that many of you are eager to act now.
BEVA planning group.