BSCF's letter to EHDC highlighting petition to preserve Green Belt land at Whittington Way

Photo showing the petition being presented by John Rhodes, President of Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation (centre) to EHDC's Head of Communications, Lorraine Kirk with Rob Francis (right), BSCF Treasurer, looking on. Green Belt Petition

Kevin Steptoe
Head of Planning and Building Control
East Herts District Council
Pegs Lane
SG13 8EQ
15 December 2016

Dear Kevin


I wrote to the planning policy team on 20 November enclosing the objections of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation to the pre-submission version of the District Plan. A copy of the summary of our objections is attached for ease of reference.

One of our points was that Government Ministers have made it clear that Green Belt boundaries should be adjusted only in exceptional circumstances. They have emphasised that housing demand alone would not be an exceptional circumstance which would justify changing Green Belt boundaries, and that if any changes are to be made it should done through the Local Plan process and with the support of the local people (all references are from the letter from Brandon Lewis to all MPs dated 7 June – his successor’s letter to Cllr Haysey dated 18 August makes the same points in slightly different terms).

The proposal in the plan to remove land south of Whittington Way from the Green Belt and allocate the site for 750 homes and associated development has aroused strong opposition from the people of the town. Our statement of objections referred to the description of this in the Neighbourhood Plan covering the area which is going through a parallel final consultation process. However, to ensure that our objection still reflected current popular opinion, the Civic Federation also organised a pop-up petition. We hired a stand in the Market Square for a day (19 November) and also asked for support for our objection to this suggested change in the Green Belt boundary from our members and through our Facebook page. In total our campaign has been supported by over 2000 signatories – 1929 on paper and 261 signatures and comments in the on-line petition.

We believe that to have gained this level of support for our objection over such a short space of time provides ample evidence that the local community remains strongly opposed to this change in the Green Belt boundary. We would therefore be grateful if you would ensure that when the Council sends our objections to the independent Inspector, they are accompanied by this petition. It is, of course, still open to the Council to delete this proposal from the Plan before sending it to the Planning Inspectorate, and it would considerably alter the extent of our objections if the Council were to do so.

Yours sincerely,
John Rhodes (President)
Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation

See here for the BSCF's Full Statement of Objections

See here for EHDC's District Plan Consulation Portal