Cllr Laurence Handy issued a chilling warning at the annual Berkhamsted Town Meeting last Thursday (12 March): Berkhamsted could reach the borough’s 2031 housing target within the next few years. ‘The [borough] planning officer, when I mentioned this, reminded me that a target is not a ceiling,’ he said.
Cllr Handy was winding up his account of the activities of the Town Planning Committee, which he chairs. The mathematics, he pointed out, are simple. When Dacorum Borough Council began work on what became the Core Strategy for growth in the borough, Berkhamsted Town Council suggested a target of 750 new dwellings in the town by 2031 – the year to which the Core Strategy runs. The borough settled on a figure of 1,180. ‘By April 2014, from the start date of 2006, 480 new dwellings had been completed and 176 more had been approved. In March 2015 54 dwellings are being built at New Lodge, 48 sheltered apartments at the top end of the High Street and 26 council houses at Farm Place, Gossoms End; and 92 have been approved at Egerton Rothesay. A dozen others are being built at various sites. That makes 890, of which 600 have been built. We are well on our way to achieving the target of 1,180.’
The next 300 may not be far over the horizon. The Hanburys site off Shootersway will take 40 new houses, the second stage of the Egerton Rothesay development could add 48, the Police Station is earmarked for 26 apartments and 13 for Swing Gate Lane; and 30 are proposed in the Lidl development. Meanwhile infill developments continue to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
‘It’s probably even more worrying than that,’ Cllr Handy added. ‘The new population projections which have just come out suggest that the number of new households in Berkhamsted will increase 29% on what is already projected.’