I know many residents are increasingly anxious and concerned about the burden being put on our greenbelt land by development pressures. This includes contentious planned developments such as on the land at Shenley Hill, Woodcock Hill Village Green, Letchmore Heath and Horses’ Field.
Here in Hertsmere, we are exceptional in that almost all the borough’s un-developed land is green belt. Until now, we have been constrained by heavy handed housing targets, which force inappropriate decisions on local councils without any consideration of our individual circumstances in Hertsmere.
I have been determined in my campaign to get the Housing Secretary to look again at its approach to planning in Hertsmere.
I am therefore delighted that the government have confirmed major reforms to the planning system, which will protect against development on green belt land. Hertsmere Borough Council will no longer be forced to set aside prime greenbelt land to meet future housing targets. They will also be able to prevent development taking place if it would significantly alter the character of an area or impinge on the green belt.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will also now explicitly state that top-down housing targets are advisory not mandatory, something that I have been campaigning greatly for.
I am disappointed, though, that Labour have said it would start reversing these planned changes to the NPPF on day one if they were elected.
In 2022, I welcomed the then Conservative run Hertsmere Borough Council’s decision not to proceed with its draft Local Plan. The Council have now agreed a framework for a new Local Plan. This will go to public consultation in spring of this year and I encourage residents to engage with it. Your Conservative councillors and I will be sure to hold the now Labour-Lib Dem administration to account to ensure that our green spaces are not built upon.
I will continue to prioritise the protection of our local countryside, which I know so many residents value.