Thanks to the Chiltern Society for this update on the recent virtual meeting regarding Dacorum’s Local Plan
A big thank you to all those who attended our open virtual meeting on the 14 January. It was great to get such constructive feedback from a wide range of residents and key community groups alike. Without exception we heard everyone would like the council to revise their existing plan by introducing creative and radical changes, that benefit people, wildlife and the environment.
The Chiltern Society has an experienced team of volunteers working on planning in Dacorum, and like those attending our meeting their reaction to this plan was not positive. In a nutshell, all declared the Dacorum Local Plan one of the most unimaginative and long-winded plans they have seen!
Key concerns being that not enough has been done to limit the housing numbers, or the damage the plans will do to our infrastructure, wildlife, chalk aquifer, and community.
There has been a constructive response from some in the council and local MPs, but little or nothing from our Council Leaders. We hope this and the detailed feedback we provide later will be taken in the constructive way it is intended; we all need a local plan that is good for those in our existing homes, those in the new homes and for the flora and fauna living wild in our countryside.
The present plan is to grow Tring’s housing by around 60%, Berkhamsted by 31% and Hemel by 28% in less than 2 decades. Across Dacorum that’s 16,899 new homes, with plans for further growth later. The majority on green field sites. It is essential that the council review these housing targets if the plan is not to have a significant detrimental effect on the Green Belt and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Chilterns.
The Chiltern Society, and partners have taken inspiration from the Chesham Renaissance Community Interest Company Masterplan and are delighted to hear positive comments from Buckinghamshire Council leaders to this plan. We would ask Dacorum to do the same.
There are 5 key principles for a Masterplan approach that we ask Dacorum to take:
- Housing targets to be met outside the AONB (thankfully they are) and Green Belt (they aren’t) and where possible town centre sites should replace Green Belt sites
- Consider The Chesham Masterplan as a model for Dacorum towns, focussing on regenerating brownfield land and town centres.
- Ensure the plan has been prepared by the people for the people, presently everyone we’ve talked to feels it is being imposed.
- Embrace the need for new housing that is ‘genuinely affordable’ for local people and close to local facilities and transport connections. Includes the changing requirement for workspace in the Borough. One not driven by developers profits, but for the community and wildlife.
- A plan based entirely on hard-hitting sustainability principles, integrating the local environment with benefits to the local community and local economy. A plan that considers not just new build sustainability but also existing homes and infrastructure.
Presently the lack of ambition seems to detail more of the same, which will result in the same outcomes of the past, which increased environmental damage and biodiversity loss.
We urge all of you to look at the consultation document and send your comments to Dacorum Borough Council (www.dacorum.gov.uk/localplan) by the extended closing date of 28 February 2021. We aim to have our draft response available for all to view by early February, so they are available online to aid you in submitting yours.
Your support is greatly appreciated.
Tom Beeston, Chiltern Society Chief Officer