PRESS RELEASE FROM THE RT HON PETER LILLEY MP
Wednesday December 16th 2009
LILLEY FIGHTS TO STOP LUTON EXPANDING TOWARDS HITCHIN
Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, took his campaign against housing development east of Luton to Whitehall this week when he met the Local Government minister, Rosie Winterton, and planning officials from the government office for the East of England (GO-East).
He said: “I put to them the great sense of injustice felt by people in north Hertfordshire that Luton and South Bedfordshire councils had proposed making part of my constituency one of their preferred development areas for meeting their housing targets.
“The officials admitted that North Herts District Council had not been part of the planning process for the adjoining Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-Region, but felt there was nothing untoward in the planning proposal.
“Officials confirmed that should any houses be built as a result of Luton/South Beds designating this area they would count towards the Luton and South Beds targets and not to North Hertfordshire’s housing target. I explained that this compounded the sense of outrage in Hertfordshire. It was suggested that constituents might be mollified by the fact that North Herts would gain additional funds via the Housing Planning Delivery Grant for these extra houses. But this is small beer and would in no way compensate for the loss of Green Belt land.
“One mildly encouraging sign was the impression the Minister and her officials gave that they did not mind whether additional houses were built to the East or West of Luton. If there is eventually an inquiry in public, the inspector will need to be convinced that the main components of the core strategy are ‘deliverable’. Apparently recent decisions by GO-East about roads and other infrastructure to the West and North of Luton will make it easier to demonstrate that housing plans to the West are deliverable – this could mean development East of Luton into Herts would be deferred.
“Added to that, Luton Borough Council have voted to drop plans for more than 5,000 homes to the east of the town. This vote appears to have caused some disarray – which I very much welcome!
“Whatever happens, I shall continue to fight to keep some of our most beautiful countryside free from development. Built-up areas need green lungs and the Green Belt between Luton and Hitchin serves a vital purpose in providing open space for leisure and enjoyment.”
Further information from John Allen