Oliver Dowden, MP for Hertsmere, pledged his renewed support for the campaign against over a hundred new houses being built on Green Belt land around Little Heath near Potters Bar.
Although the development is taking place on land within the Borough of Welwyn Hatfield, residents of the new homes would rely on Potters Bar for services such as transport, GPs and schools. These services are already under strain.
Speaking to a meeting of the Little Heath Action Group, Mr Dowden re-iterated his serious concerns over the proposals and called on all concerned local residents to join the campaign.
Mr Dowden said:
‘I was glad to see the meeting on Wednesday night was so well attended and my own concerns about these developments remain unchanged.
‘Potters Bar’s schools, roads and doctors will have to bear the brunt of the increased demand that will result from the doubling of Little Heath’s population’
‘Local Councils have a duty to co-operate when drawing up their Local Plans and I will continue to work with the Action Group to fight these developments. I would encourage all local people with similar reservations to get involved with this campaign.’
On 13 June 2016, Welwyn Hatfield Council Planning Committee voted by six to four to approve a draft Local Plan. This Plan deems the Little Heath site as suitable for development. The Welwyn Hatfield Council Cabinet met on 2 August 2016 where the recommendations from the Planning Committee were ratified.
An independent Planning Inspector from the DCLG will be examining whether the Council has met the legal requirements for the preparation of the Plan and whether it is sound. The Planning Inspector should recommend the Plan be rejected if the duty to co-operate has not been met.
Mr Dowden has previously raised this point about the duty of Councils to cooperate with each other in the House of Commons earlier this year:
‘In Potters Bar, there are proposals for more than 750 new houses to be built on the edge of town, but in a neighbouring local authority. Will the Deputy Leader of the House find time for us to debate the importance of the duty to co-operate in local planning processes so that planning decisions properly take into account the needs of residents in places such as Potters Bar?’
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council will be undertaking a final Public Consultation over an eight week period from Tuesday 30 August to Monday 24 October 2016.
Mr Dowden said:
‘I will be responding to this final consultation and I strongly encourage others to make their voice heard and do so as well.’