MM010 - Page 32 Policy SP2

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Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6686

Received: 11/01/2019

Respondent: Mr Robert Howard

Representation:

WY1 does not represent sustainable development and there are no "very special circumstances" to remove WY1 from the green belt. WY1, Little Wymondley Categorised as a village identified for growth is completely unsound. The development and modification are unsound. NHDC have not once mentioned the Wymondley Neighbourhood plan which is currently at Examination in Public stage. The Local Plan and modification are unsound.

Full text:

I object to Main Modification (MM 010 Policy SP2).
Little Wymondley being categorised as a village identified for growth for the following reasons.


WY1, Little Wymondley Categorised as a village identified for growth is completely unsound. The development and modification are unsound.

1, the Office for National Statistics and government have made it clear that NHDC,s proposed development grown for NHDC is completely overestimated and is unsound. The development and modification are unsound.

I do not believe that NHDC have taken the findings of the ONS regarding the reduction of housing needs with the NHDC area seriously. NHDC do not need to build WY1 on green belt in Little Wymondley and WY1 should not be categorised a village identified for growth, the development and modification are unsound.

NHDC used the projections from 2014 to base the housing figures instead of the ONS 2016 projections. Therefore, NHDC have overestimated the housing need by 4000 dwellings. The housing figure should be lowered by 4000 which will prevent the need to build on the green belt within the smaller villages such as WY1 in Little Wymondley. Therefore, the modification is unsound.





2, developing WY1 which is approximately equivalent to an increase in the size of Little Wymondley of 80% simply is not sustainable development.
The development and modification are unsound.

3, the infrastructure cannot cope with the amount of traffic we have now and NHDC have not carried out any air quality measurements in the parish of Wymondley. The AQMA at the Three Moorhens needs to be extended along the A602 Wymondley Bypass. The Wymondley Parish Neighbourhood Plan Committee (sub committee of the Wymondley Parish Council) along with the Friends of the Earth (FoE) have carried out air quality diffusion tube testing in November 2017 then 12 consecutive months starting in April 2018 and will reach completion in March 2019. The diffusion test tubes supplied by FoE are analysed by the same laboratory (GRADKO) as NHDC have used., using the DEFRA model.
Until NHDC do this then the development and modification are unsound.


4, the proposed new road leading to WY1 will be on a known flood risk area on Stevenage Road, this proposed development and modification are unsound.

5, NHDC has not proved that they have used up all brownfield site development areas and have not proved "very special circumstances" to remove WY1 from the current green belt status. Therefore, WY1, Little Wymondley should not be categorised as a village identified for growth. This proposed development and modification are unsound.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6813

Received: 19/01/2019

Respondent: Mr Alan McMullen

Representation:

See full text below

Full text:

The following comments on the proposed submission North Hertfordshire District Council's Local Plan 2011 - 2031 as modified in November 2018 are in addition to the comments already made concerning the specific application for 167 dwellings on Land to the South of Heath Lane, Codicote
(18/02722/FP) (CD5 in Local Plan), those comments being appended at the end of this document.

Referring primarily to the new paragraph 4.xx between 4.12 and 4.13:
This states that five villages, Knebworth, Codicote, Ickleford, Little Wymondley and Barkway, have been identified as villages that can support higher levels of growth. Firstly, in respect of the first two villages the grounds cited for this are that they are: 'the two largest villages within North Hertfordshire and support a range of services, including a station at Knebworth'; that must mean that they are the villages most at risk of losing their character as villages and becoming small towns. Secondly, in respect of all five villages, paragraph 4.9 states that they will contribute about 11% to the total requirement of just under 16,000 new homes. But should it really be necessary to alter the character of these villages and intrude on the green belt around them when as paragraph 4.104 states: 'Land to the west of the A1(M) at Stevenage within North Hertfordshire has long been identified as a sustainable location for a substantial urban extension to the town. Given the history of this site, it is considered there is sufficient justification to remove this site from the Green Belt now and safeguard it for future use.' That paragraph goes on to state: 'This land is not allocated for development at the present time. No development will be permitted until a plan review determines that the site is required to meet long-term needs and remains (part of) the most appropriate solution.' Surely if that land is known to be a sustainable for a substantial development it would be preferable on any rational view to bring forward development there rather than in five villages which would provide fewer homes between them in any case.

Referring to paragraph 4.35:
This states in part: 'There are quite sizeable employment sites in villages such as Ashwell, Codicote, Kimpton, Little Wymondley and Weston which provide rural jobs and should be retained.' In the case of Codicote (and for all I know the others) the description 'sizeable' might be considered to be an exaggeration; what is certain is that the existing employment opportunities there would be miniscule in comparison to the number of new inhabitants that would be accommodated in the proposed housing development. Those new inhabitants seeking employment would perforce have to travel elsewhere to work. There is already a traffic problem on the roads, bus services are inadequate, there is no railway station at Codicote and the car parks at the two nearest stations (Welwyn North and Knebworth) are already too small to meet demand on weekdays.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6828

Received: 28/01/2019

Respondent: Rumball Sedgwick

Representation:

See attached. Overreliance on small number of strategic sites. Insufficient sites or opportunities for development within village boundaries.

Full text:

See attached

Attachments:

Support

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6874

Received: 16/02/2019

Respondent: Warden Developments Ltd

Agent: Phillips Planning Services Ltd

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6970

Received: 11/03/2019

Respondent: Mr Andrew Salmon

Representation:

See Attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6987

Received: 27/02/2019

Respondent: Mr Steven Porter

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

1) Subject: Modification Objection - Hundreds of Representors Lost from the Examination Process.
Modification: MM001 - p.0
Page LP 1: 0
Policy/ Paragraph: About this consultation
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Delete
Inspector's Reason/ source: For INSERTED: effectiveness; Consultation has occurred
THIS REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION:
Our community has identified between 99 - 195 people who made their objection/ representations at Regulation 19, but which those same Objection Statements, the Council failed to publish.
If you find this respondent's name not on the list of Representors for the Examination, then it is possible this writer is amongst those respondents wrongly excluded from participation after Regulation 19. This is something you will need to investigate thoroughly for yourself.
As a result these participants (residents of East Luton and North Hertfordshire) have been left out of all communications from the Council thereafter.
Furthermore the Inspector also failed to inform these representors of their right to participate at Regulation 22.
The basis for modification MM001 therefore cannot apply so this Paragraph should not be removed.
The reason it should not be removed is because Consultation has not yet occurred for a very large number of representors who did make their Objections known to the Council at Regulation 19.
This Consultation must now be halted and there must be a detailed investigation conducted to establish exactly who was left out of the Examination Procedures at Regulation 22, why and who was responsible for excluding them.
Having been entirely left out of the Examination Consultation and participation process at Regulation 22, they were also denied all opportunity to put in any of their further "Matter Statements" at the start of this Examination. Consequentially they have also been left out of this current Modification Consultation.
This shocking event has occurred and leaves a heavy pressing question mark hanging over the already shadowy legitimacy of North Herts District Council's Local Plan and the hidden plans of its architects.
The Consultation cannot continue without all representors who made their views known in writing at Regulation 19. These representors must be afforded their due rights for fair Consultation at all stages beyond Regulation 19, under the Town and Country Planning Act and other Laws.
For this reason it is our urgent demand to the Inspector, and Secretary of State, and our MPs - that this Consultation be immediately suspended; until the exact numbers left out of this Consultation can be clearly identified and established. Also that the person/s responsible for this unacceptable breach be clearly identified. And their motives for removing such a huge number of representors be brought to the forefront for examination.
We are trying to establish the exact number of representors who were left out of the Consultation process, but the current number is running at, at least 74; with numerous additional people surfacing. But this is your job not ours' to investigate what has gone wrong. And you will need time to do that. So this Consultation must be suspended.
All members of the Public and stakeholders must be allowed by Law to participate in every stage of a Public Consultation without discrimination. Any Inspector judging the soundness of a Plan's preparation would know that it is simply not sound preparation by anyone's standards - to leave any, let alone such a huge number of Objectors out!

2) Modification objection - Policy SP1 - Sustainable development in North Hertfordshire - failure to protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1, EL2 and EL3)
Modification: MM008 - page 5 Parts (ii) and (iv)
Page LP 31
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP1 (c) (ii) and (iv)
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Revised
Inspector's reason/source: For effectiveness as proposed in LP3

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part (iv) states that this Plan 'will protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment including biodiversity, important landscapes, heritage assets and green infrastructure'.
This statement does not accord with the facts specifically below:
This stated policy does not meet the following three key objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in so far as it relates to the land parcel EL1/EL2 and EL3.
* ENV 1: Direct development towards the most sustainable locations which seek to maintain the existing settlement pattern. Arguably this objective cannot be said to be met by a development which totally destroys the existing settlement pattern).
* ENV 2: Protect and enhance the historic character of North Hertfordshire's towns, villages, hamlets and landscape by promoting good design that creates a distinctive sense of place. This objective cannot possibly be said to be met through a development that destroys and degrades the historic character of the three villages, and destroys the Green Belt landscape. The distinctive sense of place currently enjoyed by the three villages will be utterly destroyed by the swathe of new housing and other buildings that will surround and engulf the villages, no matter how good the design of the new development might be.
* ENV 3: Protect, maintain and enhance the District's historic and natural environment, its cultural assets and network of open spaces, urban and rural landscapes. The rural landscape to the west of the three villages will be lost for ever, as will be the network of open spaces.

In addition:

* The wildlife in this area will be displaced. We have healthy populations of deer, bats, owls, red kites and woodpeckers, to name but a few. So-called wildlife corridors are no substitute.
* The Chiltern Way national path runs from the south right through Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green thence to the north east - what impact will these new developments have on this prestige footpath route which is well used by walkers?
* This proposed development will not help to achieve policy ECON6 in the National Planning Policy Framework economic objectives which is to "Sustain the vitality of our villages and the rural economy in supporting rural diversification, whilst ensuring development is of an appropriate scale and character". It is obvious there
is no way this objective can be said to be met. Grade 3 agricultural land will be lost to make way for the new homes, the vitality and loss of identity of the three blighted villages will never be regained and the development on such a huge scale can never be described as being of an appropriate scale and character.

Part (ii) states that (inter alia): "provide opportunities for health lifestyle choices."

* If this development is allowed to go ahead in EL1. EL2 and EL3 it will have a detrimental effect on greenspace for people already living in the new area. Luton already has a very poor record in this regard. The Green Infrastructure Plan for Luton mentions the strategic role and importance of green space across the borough and its interrelationship with green space in neighbouring authorities to make publicly accessible open space assets available to all Luton residents as the population grows. Already in Luton, the town fails in 7 out of 10 categories to meet the current greenspace requirements - to the tune of 352 hectares. The loss of 116 hectares from the Cockernhoe Green Belt to housing will simply magnify that problem - not improve the situation - and Luton people already living In Wigmore will suffer from the loss of the greenspace.

Combined together these elements of Policy SP1 cannot therefore be said to be 'sound'.

3) Modification objection - Policy SP2 - Settlement Hierarchy and Spatial Distribution - fundamental objection to the plans for 2,100 homes to the East of Luton in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.
Modification: MM010 - page 6
Page LP 32
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP2
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness to better explain the spatial strategy of the Plan following Matter 2 Hearing Session (ED53; ED138)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states that "approximately 80% of the District's housing settlement and the substantial majority of new employment, retail and other development will be located within the adjusted settlement boundaries of the following towns".
It then goes on to include Luton with the proposed 2,100 homes.
* The clear impression given by this statement is that these new homes are to be located within Luton's boundary area as opposed to the reality that these homes are scheduled for build on land in North Hertfordshire. This also gives the impression that this new development effectively will become part of Luton, rather than remaining in North Hertfordshire.
* We object to the sheer scale of this proposed development which is out of all proportion to the area. We do not believe the building of so many homes in the Cockernhoe area, and at such a scale, can be justified when compared to the likely impact of proposed developments on other areas of North Herts. This small area of just some 200 homes and a population of 400 in what is protected Green Belt land will suffer the largest increase in percentage terms across the whole NHDC district - a 1050% increase in home building -and much higher than anywhere else in percentage terms. In real housing terms this proposed development will be much bigger than developments planned for much larger centres such as Stevenage, Royston and Hitchin.

* This new development accounts for 13.16 % of all the new housing totals for North Hertfordshire under this Local Plan.

4) Modification objection - Policy SP4 - Town centres, local centres and community shops - fundamental objection to the proposed building of Class A retail in among the housing development planned for east of Luton in parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

Modification: MM17 - page 10

Page: LP38

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 14 hearing sessions (ED56, ED77, ED117 and ED151)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states, inter alia, that amongst the new retail developments 'identified in this plan will be one East of Luton in the strategic site'.

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here, because whereas there is further information given as to the types of retail provision planned for the major centres located in North Herts, there is absolutely no information given as to the scale of type of retail provision planned for the site east of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

* In fact in the full Local Plan draft it does state that the provision in the East of Luton plans call for a new local centre. This will include 250 square metres of Class A1 convenience retail provision and 850 sq.m of other A-class floor-space and other necessary social infrastructure (implies small shops, fast food delivery, newsagents for the 250 sq. m; what will be involved in the 850 sq.m is unsure.

* We contend that this scale of development, alongside the 2,100 homes planned is totally out of scale and proportion to the area.

5) Modification Objection - Policy SP4 - Town Centres, local centres and community shops - objection to the inherent threat posed by the stated future proposal for the new retail centre in among the housing development planned for the East of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM020 - pages 12-13

Page: LP39

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4; paragraph 4.44

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The statement at paragraph 4.44 states: "The growth of the District will require additional centres to be provided to serve the urban extensions at Baldock and on the edge of Luton. Once built these will become local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals within them will be assessed appropriately".

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here because the so-called growth of the District to the east of Luton is almost totally geared to meeting a proportion of Luton's unmet housing needs, not because of the needs of the current residents of the three villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green.

* Furthermore, we believe this local centre be the thin edge of the wedge. The plan states that once built the new centres will be "local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals for them will be assessed appropriately." This is vague and threatening in terms of even more development likely to occur in the future.

6) Modification Objection - Policy SP5 - Countryside and Green Belt - objection to the removal of Green Belt protection from the East of Luton area in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM023 - pages 13-14

Page: LP41

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP5

Inspector's proposed modifications: For consistency with national policy and legal compliance following Matter 15 hearing session (NHDC Matter 15 hearing statement ED55; ED152)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part of this policy states that NHDC' has conducted a comprehensive review of the Green Belt. Land has been removed from the Green belt to:

- Enable strategic development at the SP8 location - which is land East of Luton
- Have provided new Green Belt to cover, in general terms, the area bounded by the Metropolitan Green belt to the east, the Luton Green Belt to the west and the A505 Offley by-pass to the north;
- Will only permit development proposals in the Green Belt where they would not result in inappropriate development or where very special circumstances have been demonstrated'.

* It is our contention that in re -drafting this section to make it consistent with national policy, it has in fact exposed the weakness of the NHDC position in relation to the Green Belt in this area as explained below.

* It is our contention that NHDC is being economic with the truth here. What it fails to mention is that the comprehensive review of the Green Belt in the land to the East of Luton (parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) first carried out several years ago identified that against the fundamental purposes 1 and 3 the Green Belt surrounding Cockernhoe made a SIGNIFICANT contribution to Green Belt purposes whereas the areas of Green Belt to the north and south (which are not proposed for development) registered only as MODERATE.

* The review also measured against purpose 2 - which is only peripheral in this case -because, although this area is located in the gap between Luton and Hitchin, the Green Belt plays a limited role due to the distance between the towns. Similarly against purpose 4 - the Green Belt is also peripheral because there are no historic towns in the area. In both cases it was deemed that the Green Belt score should be lower.

* There surely is an argument that although the three villages are not a town, the Green Belt most certainly preserves the character and setting of these three villages - some of which have been in existence for hundreds of years. However the NHDC review states that as the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green are not towns they are 'not significant from a Green Belt perspective.'

* This is perverse because there would have been no way that these villages would have been able to expand into being small towns because of the Green Belt protection.

* The end result - and it was equally perverse - was that despite measures 1 and 3 being the most important and relevant criteria for this area of the Green Belt achieving a SIGNIFICANT score, the overall score across the four measures was downgraded to what is termed a MODEST contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to our circumstances, were not rated as highly.

* More recently, NHDC revised its Green Belt assessment in a Review published in September 2018. This was done - among other reasons they say - due to criticism of the methodologies previously used and new better practice, but it clearly was also due to representations made by respondents (including a barrister representing Save our Green Belt who cited case law). There was very little publicity about this revised assessment; simply a document placed online in amongst hundreds of others and hardly noticeable.

* So where we are now is that the area around Cockernhoe has been re-assessed as making an overall SIGNIFICANT contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt, but it has taken over 2.5 years for NHDC to come belatedly to this conclusion.

* However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because it is deemed a strategic site and these sites are fundamental to the Plan's strategy. Also, it is the only one available to NHDC in this area that allows them under the Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring authorities to contribute to the unmet needs of the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA), but we also contend that the Duty to Co-operate has been grossly over-stipulated and over-planned by NHDC to the detriment of the existing settlements and residents around the Cockernhoe area.

* We would challenge NHDC strongly on the conclusions it has reached concerning changes to the existing Green Belt designations.

* When arriving at these conclusions NHDC has very conveniently glossed over the extremely pertinent and important fact that our area is now recognised as making a Significant Overall contribution to the Green Belt - probably one of the highest Green Belt ratings that can we awarded - yet it has concluded that despite this accolade the development to the 'East of Luton' should proceed simply because, it believes, its requirement to meet its housing targets overrides all other considerations.

* To the cynic it might appear that this was merely a masterly piece of duplicitous, sleight of hand employed solely to suit NHDC's preferred outcome. We require NHDC to explain/justify the criteria it employed when considering and arriving at its, possibly pre-determined, conclusion.

* Furthermore, we believe that this plan to remove the Green Belt from the Cockernhoe area will not sit well with the statement by Brandon Lewis, the then Minister of State for Housing and Local Planning in a letter to MPs June 7, 2016, which said: "The Government has put in place the strongest protections for the Green Belt. The framework makes it clear that inappropriate development may be allowed only in exceptional circumstances through the Local Plan process and with the support of local people. We have been repeatedly clear that demand for housing alone will not change the Green Belt boundaries."

* It is our contention that that the loss of the green belt around Cockernhoe together with the engulfing of three villages does not represent 'exceptional circumstances' to justify removing the green belt. We would also contend that the scale of this proposed development is totally inappropriate to this rural area and it certainly does not have the support of local people.

* This is especially so since both Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council have stated that in all probability they could build more houses in their respective areas to meet Luton's unmet housing needs and at better, more convenient locations, closer to the urban areas of Luton and to the better transport links. At the very least this holds out a realistic prospect that NHDC will not have to build 2,100 homes east of Luton and should result in the immediate halting of the development plans for this area East of Luton.

* NHDC also states that it plans to replace the Green Belt to the East of Luton area with another new Green Belt to the immediate east of the proposed development to protect the countryside from the urban sprawl it proposes to create and to prevent coalescence with Hitchin and Stevenage. We would argue that if the proposed development is allowed to go ahead, creating - in effect - a greater Luton eastwards it will only be a matter of time before this new proposed Green Belt area becomes under threat from further Luton expansion. What trust would the residents in the villages in this area put in NHDC given their actions towards the residents of the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green?

* Fundamentally the removal of the Green Belt in the Cockernhoe area to facilitate this proposed huge housing/infrastructure development is not 'sound' and should be rejected.

7) Modification objection - Policy SP6 - Sustainable Transport - objection on the ground that the aspirations of the NHDC planners to create sustainable transport provision in the proposed development East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) is unlikely to be achieved in practice.

Modification: MM028 page 15

Page: LP43

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP6

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 16 Hearing Session (ED55, ED105, ED153).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The wording in SP6 is aspirational, talking of sustainable transport, cycle ways, walking etc. However, in relation to the proposed development east of Luton we would contend that, in large part, these aspirations are unlikely to be delivered for a variety of the following reasons:

* Road access will be from Luton Road (presumably much wider!!) and integrated into Luton's road network through Crawley Green Road, plus transport mitigation efforts to address impacts upon Luton. The NHDC Local Plan states that it believes the development can be accommodated 'without a significant adverse impact on the wider highway networks of Luton and Hertfordshire'.

* This doesn't tie in with the inadequacy of the roads to the east, plus the needs for mitigation methods to address impacts on Luton. The possible expansion of the secondary school to meet needs from the rural east will mean extra traffic (school runs) on the already inadequate single track roads.

* By contrast the Luton Local Plan indicates that the large East of Luton development will affect the local road network and there are likely to be affects in terms of increased traffic congestion and associated pollution. It also states in relation to the expansion of Luton Airport that this will create significant extra traffic to the airport, including an east-west direction through North Hertfordshire. This will add to the pressure on transport and infrastructure in the Luton Local Plan. Luton has also indicated that it foresees the need for a new road linking the proposed development to the A505. Where that might be built is not apparent at the moment.

* Therefore it does not appear that NHDC and Luton Borough Council are in agreement on this roads and traffic planning transport issue.

* With 2,100 new homes and probably an average of 2 cars per household we are looking at an extra 4000 cars in this area. If even a relatively small proportion of those cars make regular trips to the east (some people probably will work in Hitchin or Stevenage) the chances are they will use the single track roads down to Lilley Bottom and thence to Hitchin - roads already unsuitable and surprisingly busy at rush hours. Traffic westwards into Luton especially at rush hours will add further pressure to already busy access roads.

* The NHDC belief that the new development will enable sustainable transport journeys to be made to key services and locations is unlikely to be realised to a large extent in practice. If people in the new development work in the centre of Luton or commute into London, then the likelihood is cars will be used on the already busy roads, especially in rush hours. CAG Consultants said: 'the site is a long distance from the Luton town centre and the topography is undulating which would be a discouragement to walking or cycling into the town. The site is over 3km from Luton station so residents are likely to use private vehicles to commute and access services in Luton. The local road network into North Hertfordshire is sub-standard and development could reduce accessibility for existing residents".

* There seems to be no provision in the Local Plan to cater for the existing residents of the Cockernhoe area who wish to travel eastwards towards Hitchin /Stevenage, given that the same CAG consultants also stated that this development 'could reduce accessibility for existing residents due to the sub-standard of the existing roads into North Hertfordshire?

* Fundamentally we contend that the sustainable transport aspirations in the NHDC Local Plan in relation to the proposed development east of Luton is unlikely to be deliverable in reality and therefore should be regarded as not 'sound'.

8) Modification objection - Policy SP8 Housing - objection on the grounds that it is not at all certain that Luton has an unmet housing need of 1,950 homes that needs to be provided for by the proposed development to the East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3).

Modification: MM035 - Page 19

Page: LP pages 47-48

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP8
Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure the Plan is positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy following Matter 2,3,4,8,10 and 12 hearing sessions and consequential to MM010 (ED53, ED54, ED60, ED83, ED139, ED140, ED144, ED149).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Section (b) of this policy states that HNDC will : ' provide additional land within the Luton
HMA for a further 1950 net new homes as a contribution towards the unmet needs arising
from Luton'.

* It is our contention that the unmet housing need from Luton can better be achieved through additional house building within the Luton town boundaries, or from within the Central Bedfordshire District Council land adjoining Luton to the north and west. Both of these two authorities have indicated that they can probably provide more housing to meet Luton's unmet needs and in better locations to the urban area and transport links, thus cancelling out the requirement for homes needed from NHDC land.
* Luton Borough Council has over-delivered on housing supply in the past 10 years and its plans to build 8,500 homes within its town boundaries to meet part of its own unmet housing needs are almost exclusively on brownfield sites. Nonetheless Luton BC has indicated that it is possible that additional houses could be built on some of these sites and there are other brownfield sites that could also be used for housing. The projected re-siting of Luton Town Football Club from Kenilworth Road to the Power Court site in the next few years will further free up another big space for more housing - none of which in included in Luton BC's housing projections at the moment, other than an aspirational indication of housing possibilities on the Kenilworth Road site towards the end of the 2031 period.
* Central Bedfordshire has identified 669 sites for which planning permission for new housing has not yet been given. Of these 25 sites are within easy distance of the Luton conurbation and totals over 4,000 hectares (by comparison the East of Luton site totals 116.7 hectares) Quite a few of these sites are not in the Green Belt.
* NHDC's generous offer of 1,950 homes in an area of unspoilt Green Belt countryside is perverse when it is obvious that there is much more land available in Central Bedfordshire, as well as the prospect that Luton BC could build more homes than its target . Furthermore, the firm offer from NHDC is ridiculous when it is quite clear that Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council are not in agreement as to how many homes they can each build and where they should be built.
* NHDC has been far too eager to offer this land for Luton's unmet housing needs to the detriment of the Green Belt and the existing villages and residents around Cockernhoe. It would have been far better for NHDC to have made a conditional offer of the possibility of building homes in the Cockernhoe area, although Green Belt considerations would have to weigh heavily, to meet some of Luton's unmet housing needs, once the two authorities of LBC and CBC resolved their disagreements about how many homes they can build and where they should be built?

9) Modification objection - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2 and EL3 - East of Luton - objections as already expressed.

Modification: MM083 - Page 43

Page: LP71

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP19

Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure Plan is positively prepared, justified and effective (LP3, MOU5, NHDC Matter 10 statement (ED54, ED83, ED144)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

There are two arguments which have been used above but which are still applicable to this Policy LP71, namely:

* point (d) in the policy regarding transport (see Modification objection (7) above);
* point (f) in the policy related to Luton's unmet housing needs and the contribution from within North Herts District Council of 1,950 homes from this proposed site (see Modification objection (8) above.

10) Modification objection - Cockernhoe and East of Luton

Modification: MM221 - Page 112

Page: LP150

Policy/Paragraph: Paragraph 13.66

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 5 Hearing
Session.

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The final two sentences of the paragraph read: 'The boundary has been drawn so as to include both the village of Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green and the adjoining expansion of
Luton. Outside this boundary the rest of the Cockernhoe ward is classed as Green Belt.'

* For the avoidance of doubt it should be accurately noted that the proposed expansion is not adjoining from Luton; but rather is adjoining towards Luton.

11) Modification objection - Reference to the Luton HMA

Modification: MM410 - Page 164
Page: LP224
Policy/Paragraph: 14.39
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness
THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This section dealing with the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA) explains how the authorities in this HMA - namely Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire District Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have worked together and jointly commissioned and subsequently agreed a Growth Options Study which demonstrates sufficient potential capacity within the Luton HMA to accommodate Luton's unmet housing needs.
* What this section does not say was that this Growth Options Study identified two small parcels of land that are not geographically in the Luton or Central Bedfordshire authorities areas - namely the land to the East of Luton (i.e. Cockernhoe land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) and a bigger piece of land within Aylesbury Vale DC (AVDC) at Edlesborough. It has 3,100 people representing barely 1% of the total population of the Luton HMA (over 322,000). Despite this small number it is still approximately twice the size/contribution of the NHDC land that forms part of the Luton HMA and ten times the size of the even smaller parcel of land around Cockernhoe that is slated for development.
* In reality both the NHDC and AVDC contributions to the Luton HMA are statistically insignificant.

* Despite the fact that this Edlesborough land is not within the Green Belt and could accommodate 1,200 homes with potentiality for almost 4,500, the four authorities between them saw fit to reject development on this land, despite the fact that on many criteria this parcel of land scored as well, if not better, than the proposed development East of Luton.

* It is our contention that the inclusion of the land east of Luton in with the Luton HMA has resulted is this small parcel and the three villages with its population of circa 500 (around 0.1% of the Luton HMA population) being earmarked to provide 1,950 homes out of the total of 9300 that is the unmet housing need of Luton - that is 21% of the total build. Totally out of all proportion.

* It is also our contention that NHDC's firm offer of housing from around Cockernhoe has simply allowed both LBC and CBC to assume that they don't have to build as many homes in their own geographic areas, thus making life easier for them, rather than forcing them to make bigger efforts to solve their own housing problems?
* It is also our contention that AVDC - which doesn't even include the fact that a parcel of its land is part of the Luton HMA in its Local Plan or in the Statement of Common Ground signed with NHDC - has benefited from NHDC's capitulation in not defending its own land parcel strongly enough. NHDC has been too keen to be seen to be complying with the Duty to Co-operate; a stance that is not emulated by other authorities.

12) Examination of Evidence Document ED140 - Matter 4 The Housing Strategy: Supply of land for housing - dated 1 April 2017
Appendix 3 - Revised North Herts Housing Trajectory

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT
This document has been included in those among the Evidence Documents (ED137-ED158) on which the Inspector has requested any representations.
Appendix 3 of this document provides a table showing the planned building of homes on the three sites to the east of Luton (EL1/EL2 and EL3). This chart shows the following delivery profile for the building of the 2,100 homes proposed:

2021 140 homes 140 homes
2022-2027 190 homes per year = 1140 homes
2028-2031 205 homes per year = 820 homes
Total delivery 2100 homes over 11 years

* However, these figures and delivery profile do not agree with the more recent Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) - ED28 - signed in November 2017 between NHDC, Bloor Homes and The Crown Estate.
* This SOCG paints a rather different picture, showing the following:

2021 80 homes 80 homes
2022-2027 130 homes per year = 780 homes
2028-2031 135 homes per year = 540 homes
Total delivery 1400 homes

* There is a shortfall of 700 homes during the Plan period.
* Ominously, the SOCG states that after 2031 the build of homes will continue at the rate of 135 homes per year until the site is completed. This is a further 5 years, meaning that according to this SOCG, construction of the 2,100 homes on this proposed development will last a total of 16 years until 2035!!
* We contend that there is at the very least a significant discrepancy between these two papers - one of which the Inspector has required to be submitted for Evidence and consultation and the other (the SOCG), which is of a more recent date, and which to be found buried amongst the evidence documents.
* This is a serious discrepancy which goes to the very heart of the proposal by NHDC to build these homes to the east of Luton. We now find that instead of construction earmarked to be over the life of the Local Plan - 11 years - which is bad enough for the residents of the villages around Cockernhoe - the actual truth of the matter, hidden away in the SOCG, is that a further five years of misery are to endured by the local population to make 16 years of construction in the area - let alone the construction of the infrastructure that is also planned (2 schools, roads, A class retails, possibly a police base etc.).
* An enquiry surely needs to be held to determine whether officials/elected representatives of NHDC are complicit in this - what seems to be - deception. In the meantime, this is further evidence that the plans for proposed housing East of Luton should be scrapped.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6998

Received: 02/03/2019

Respondent: Mrs Verity Williams

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7020

Received: 27/02/2019

Respondent: Mr John Alexander

Representation:

See full text below

Full text:

Subject: Modification Objection - Hundreds of Representors Lost from the Examination Process.
Modification: MM001 - p.0
Page LP 1: 0
Policy/Paragraph: About this consultation
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Delete
Inspector's Reason/source: For INSERTED: effectiveness; Consultation has occurred

THIS REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION:
Our community has identified between 99 - 195 people who made their objection/ representations at Regulation 19, but which those same Objection Statements, the Council failed to publish.
If you find this respondent's name not on the list of Representors for the Examination, then it is possible this writer is amongst those respondents wrongly excluded from participation after Regulation 19. This is something you will need to investigate thoroughly for yourself.
As a result these participants (residents of East Luton and North Hertfordshire) have been left out of all communications from the Council thereafter.
Furthermore the Inspector also failed to inform these representors of their right to participate at Regulation 22.
The basis for modification MM001 therefore cannot apply so this Paragraph should not be removed.
The reason it should not be removed is because Consultation has not yet occurred for a very large number of representors who did make their Objections known to the Council at Regulation 19.
This Consultation must now be halted and there must be a detailed investigation conducted to establish exactly who was left out of the Examination Procedures at Regulation 22, why and who was responsible for excluding them.
Having been entirely left out of the Examination Consultation and participation process at Regulation 22, they were also denied all opportunity to put in any of their further "Matter Statements" at the start of this Examination. Consequentially they have also been left out of this current Modification Consultation.
This shocking event has occurred and leaves a heavy pressing question mark hanging over the already shadowy legitimacy of North Herts District Council's Local Plan and the hidden plans of its architects.
The Consultation cannot continue without all representors who made their views known in writing at Regulation 19. These representors must be afforded their due rights for fair Consultation at all stages beyond Regulation 19, under the Town and Country Planning Act and other Laws.
For this reason it is our urgent demand to the Inspector, and Secretary of State, and our MPs - that this Consultation be immediately suspended; until the exact numbers left out of this Consultation can be clearly identified and established. Also that the person/s responsible for this unacceptable breach be clearly identified. And their motives for removing such a huge number of representors be brought to the forefront for examination.
We are trying to establish the exact number of representors who were left out of the Consultation process, but the current number is running at, at least 74; with numerous additional people surfacing. But this is your job not ours' to investigate what has gone wrong. And you will need time to do that. So this Consultation must be suspended.
All members of the Public and stakeholders must be allowed by Law to participate in every stage of a Public Consultation without discrimination. Any Inspector judging the soundness of a Plan's preparation would know that it is simply not sound preparation by anyone's standards - to leave any, let alone such a huge number of Objectors out!

Modification objection - Policy SP1 - Sustainable development in North Hertfordshire - failure to protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1, EL2 and EL3)
Modification: MM008 - page 5 Parts (ii) and (iv)
Page LP 31
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP1 (c) (ii) and (iv)
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Revised
Inspector's reason/source: For effectiveness as proposed in LP3

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part (iv) states that this Plan 'will protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment including biodiversity, important landscapes, heritage assets and green infrastructure'.
This statement does not accord with the facts specifically below:
This stated policy does not meet the following three key objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in so far as it relates to the land parcel EL1/EL2 and EL3.
ENV 1: Direct development towards the most sustainable locations which seek to maintain the existing settlement pattern. Arguably this objective cannot be said to be met by a development which totally destroys the existing settlement pattern).
ENV 2: Protect and enhance the historic character of North Hertfordshire's towns, villages, hamlets and landscape by promoting good design that creates a distinctive sense of place. This objective cannot possibly be said to be met through a development that destroys and degrades the historic character of the three villages, and destroys the Green Belt landscape. The distinctive sense of place currently enjoyed by the three villages will be utterly destroyed by the swathe of new housing and other buildings that will surround and engulf the villages, no matter how good the design of the new development might be.
ENV 3: Protect, maintain and enhance the District's historic and natural environment, its cultural assets and network of open spaces, urban and rural landscapes. The rural landscape to the west of the three villages will be lost for ever, as will be the network of open spaces.

In addition:

The wildlife in this area will be displaced. We have healthy populations of deer, bats, owls, red kites and woodpeckers, to name but a few. So-called wildlife corridors are no substitute.
The Chiltern Way national path runs from the south right through Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green thence to the north east - what impact will these new developments have on this prestige footpath route which is well used by walkers?
This proposed development will not help to achieve policy ECON6 in the National Planning Policy Framework economic objectives which is to "Sustain the vitality of our villages and the rural economy in supporting rural diversification, whilst ensuring development is of an appropriate scale and character". It is obvious there
is no way this objective can be said to be met. Grade 3 agricultural land will be lost to make way for the new homes, the vitality and loss of identity of the three blighted villages will never be regained and the development on such a huge scale can never be described as being of an appropriate scale and character.

Part (ii) states that (inter alia): "provide opportunities for health lifestyle choices."

If this development is allowed to go ahead in EL1. EL2 and EL3 it will have a detrimental effect on greenspace for people already living in the new area. Luton already has a very poor record in this regard. The Green Infrastructure Plan for Luton mentions the strategic role and importance of green space across the borough and its interrelationship with green space in neighbouring authorities to make publicly accessible open space assets available to all Luton residents as the population grows. Already in Luton, the town fails in 7 out of 10 categories to meet the current greenspace requirements - to the tune of 352 hectares. The loss of 116 hectares from the Cockernhoe Green Belt to housing will simply magnify that problem - not improve the situation - and Luton people already living In Wigmore will suffer from the loss of the greenspace.

Combined together these elements of Policy SP1 cannot therefore be said to be 'sound'.

Modification objection - Policy SP2 - Settlement Hierarchy and Spatial Distribution - fundamental objection to the plans for 2,100 homes to the East of Luton in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.
Modification: MM010 - page 6
Page LP 32
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP2
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness to better explain the spatial strategy of the Plan following Matter 2 Hearing Session (ED53; ED138)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states that "approximately 80% of the District's housing settlement and the substantial majority of new employment, retail and other development will be located within the adjusted settlement boundaries of the following towns".
It then goes on to include Luton with the proposed 2,100 homes.
The clear impression given by this statement is that these new homes are to be located within Luton's boundary area as opposed to the reality that these homes are scheduled for build on land in North Hertfordshire. This also gives the impression that this new development effectively will become part of Luton, rather than remaining in North Hertfordshire.
We object to the sheer scale of this proposed development which is out of all proportion to the area. We do not believe the building of so many homes in the Cockernhoe area, and at such a scale, can be justified when compared to the likely impact of proposed developments on other areas of North Herts. This small area of just some 200 homes and a population of 400 in what is protected Green Belt land will suffer the largest increase in percentage terms across the whole NHDC district - a 1050% increase in home building -and much higher than anywhere else in percentage terms. In real housing terms this proposed development will be much bigger than developments planned for much larger centres such as Stevenage, Royston and Hitchin.

This new development accounts for 13.16 % of all the new housing totals for North Hertfordshire under this Local Plan.

Modification objection - Policy SP4 - Town centres, local centres and community shops - fundamental objection to the proposed building of Class A retail in among the housing development planned for east of Luton in parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

Modification: MM17 - page 10

Page: LP38

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 14 hearing sessions (ED56, ED77, ED117 and ED151)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states, inter alia, that amongst the new retail developments 'identified in this plan will be one East of Luton in the strategic site'.

We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here, because whereas there is further information given as to the types of retail provision planned for the major centres located in North Herts, there is absolutely no information given as to the scale of type of retail provision planned for the site east of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

In fact in the full Local Plan draft it does state that the provision in the East of Luton plans call for a new local centre. This will include 250 square metres of Class A1 convenience retail provision and 850 sq.m of other A-class floor-space and other necessary social infrastructure (implies small shops, fast food delivery, newsagents for the 250 sq. m; what will be involved in the 850 sq.m is unsure.

We contend that this scale of development, alongside the 2,100 homes planned is totally out of scale and proportion to the area.

Modification Objection - Policy SP4 - Town Centres, local centres and community shops - objection to the inherent threat posed by the stated future proposal for the new retail centre in among the housing development planned for the East of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM020 - pages 12-13

Page: LP39

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4; paragraph 4.44

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The statement at paragraph 4.44 states: "The growth of the District will require additional centres to be provided to serve the urban extensions at Baldock and on the edge of Luton. Once built these will become local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals within them will be assessed appropriately".

We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here because the so-called growth of the District to the east of Luton is almost totally geared to meeting a proportion of Luton's unmet housing needs, not because of the needs of the current residents of the three villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green.

Furthermore, we believe this local centre be the thin edge of the wedge. The plan states that once built the new centres will be "local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals for them will be assessed appropriately." This is vague and threatening in terms of even more development likely to occur in the future.

Modification Objection - Policy SP5 - Countryside and Green Belt - objection to the removal of Green Belt protection from the East of Luton area in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM023 - pages 13-14

Page: LP41

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP5

Inspector's proposed modifications: For consistency with national policy and legal compliance following Matter 15 hearing session (NHDC Matter 15 hearing statement ED55; ED152)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part of this policy states that NHDC' has conducted a comprehensive review of the Green Belt. Land has been removed from the Green belt to:

Enable strategic development at the SP8 location - which is land East of Luton
Have provided new Green Belt to cover, in general terms, the area bounded by the Metropolitan Green belt to the east, the Luton Green Belt to the west and the A505 Offley by-pass to the north;
Will only permit development proposals in the Green Belt where they would not result in inappropriate development or where very special circumstances have been demonstrated'.

It is our contention that in re -drafting this section to make it consistent with national policy, it has in fact exposed the weakness of the NHDC position in relation to the Green Belt in this area as explained below.

It is our contention that NHDC is being economic with the truth here. What it fails to mention is that the comprehensive review of the Green Belt in the land to the East of Luton (parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) first carried out several years ago identified that against the fundamental purposes 1 and 3 the Green Belt surrounding Cockernhoe made a SIGNIFICANT contribution to Green Belt purposes whereas the areas of Green Belt to the north and south (which are not proposed for development) registered only as MODERATE.

The review also measured against purpose 2 - which is only peripheral in this case -because, although this area is located in the gap between Luton and Hitchin, the Green Belt plays a limited role due to the distance between the towns. Similarly against purpose 4 - the Green Belt is also peripheral because there are no historic towns in the area. In both cases it was deemed that the Green Belt score should be lower.

There surely is an argument that although the three villages are not a town, the Green Belt most certainly preserves the character and setting of these three villages - some of which have been in existence for hundreds of years. However the NHDC review states that as the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green are not towns they are 'not significant from a Green Belt perspective.'

This is perverse because there would have been no way that these villages would have been able to expand into being small towns because of the Green Belt protection.

The end result - and it was equally perverse - was that despite measures 1 and 3 being the most important and relevant criteria for this area of the Green Belt achieving a SIGNIFICANT score, the overall score across the four measures was downgraded to what is termed a MODEST contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to our circumstances, were not rated as highly.

More recently, NHDC revised its Green Belt assessment in a Review published in September 2018. This was done - among other reasons they say - due to criticism of the methodologies previously used and new better practice, but it clearly was also due to representations made by respondents (including a barrister representing Save our Green Belt who cited case law). There was very little publicity about this revised assessment; simply a document placed online in amongst hundreds of others and hardly noticeable.

So where we are now is that the area around Cockernhoe has been re-assessed as making an overall SIGNIFICANT contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt, but it has taken over 2.5 years for NHDC to come belatedly to this conclusion.

However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because it is deemed a strategic site and these sites are fundamental to the Plan's strategy. Also, it is the only one available to NHDC in this area that allows them under the Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring authorities to contribute to the unmet needs of the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA), but we also contend that the Duty to Co-operate has been grossly over-stipulated and over-planned by NHDC to the detriment of the existing settlements and residents around the Cockernhoe area.

We would challenge NHDC strongly on the conclusions it has reached concerning changes to the existing Green Belt designations.

When arriving at these conclusions NHDC has very conveniently glossed over the extremely pertinent and important fact that our area is now recognised as making a Significant Overall contribution to the Green Belt - probably one of the highest Green Belt ratings that can we awarded - yet it has concluded that despite this accolade the development to the 'East of Luton' should proceed simply because, it believes, its requirement to meet its housing targets overrides all other considerations.

To the cynic it might appear that this was merely a masterly piece of duplicitous, sleight of hand employed solely to suit NHDC's preferred outcome. We require NHDC to explain/justify the criteria it employed when considering and arriving at its, possibly pre-determined, conclusion.

Furthermore, we believe that this plan to remove the Green Belt from the Cockernhoe area will not sit well with the statement by Brandon Lewis, the then Minister of State for Housing and Local Planning in a letter to MPs June 7, 2016, which said: "The Government has put in place the strongest protections for the Green Belt. The framework makes it clear that inappropriate development may be allowed only in exceptional circumstances through the Local Plan process and with the support of local people. We have been repeatedly clear that demand for housing alone will not change the Green Belt boundaries."

It is our contention that that the loss of the green belt around Cockernhoe together with the engulfing of three villages does not represent 'exceptional circumstances' to justify removing the green belt. We would also contend that the scale of this proposed development is totally inappropriate to this rural area and it certainly does not have the support of local people.

This is especially so since both Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council have stated that in all probability they could build more houses in their respective areas to meet Luton's unmet housing needs and at better, more convenient locations, closer to the urban areas of Luton and to the better transport links. At the very least this holds out a realistic prospect that NHDC will not have to build 2,100 homes east of Luton and should result in the immediate halting of the development plans for this area East of Luton.

NHDC also states that it plans to replace the Green Belt to the East of Luton area with another new Green Belt to the immediate east of the proposed development to protect the countryside from the urban sprawl it proposes to create and to prevent coalescence with Hitchin and Stevenage. We would argue that if the proposed development is allowed to go ahead, creating - in effect - a greater Luton eastwards it will only be a matter of time before this new proposed Green Belt area becomes under threat from further Luton expansion. What trust would the residents in the villages in this area put in NHDC given their actions towards the residents of the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green?

Fundamentally the removal of the Green Belt in the Cockernhoe area to facilitate this proposed huge housing/infrastructure development is not 'sound' and should be rejected.

Modification objection - Policy SP6 - Sustainable Transport - objection on the ground that the aspirations of the NHDC planners to create sustainable transport provision in the proposed development East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) is unlikely to be achieved in practice.

Modification: MM028 page 15

Page: LP43

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP6

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 16 Hearing Session (ED55, ED105, ED153).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The wording in SP6 is aspirational, talking of sustainable transport, cycle ways, walking etc. However, in relation to the proposed development east of Luton we would contend that, in large part, these aspirations are unlikely to be delivered for a variety of the following reasons:

Road access will be from Luton Road (presumably much wider!!) and integrated into Luton's road network through Crawley Green Road, plus transport mitigation efforts to address impacts upon Luton. The NHDC Local Plan states that it believes the development can be accommodated 'without a significant adverse impact on the wider highway networks of Luton and Hertfordshire'.

This doesn't tie in with the inadequacy of the roads to the east, plus the needs for mitigation methods to address impacts on Luton. The possible expansion of the secondary school to meet needs from the rural east will mean extra traffic (school runs) on the already inadequate single track roads.

By contrast the Luton Local Plan indicates that the large East of Luton development will affect the local road network and there are likely to be affects in terms of increased traffic congestion and associated pollution. It also states in relation to the expansion of Luton Airport that this will create significant extra traffic to the airport, including an east-west direction through North Hertfordshire. This will add to the pressure on transport and infrastructure in the Luton Local Plan. Luton has also indicated that it foresees the need for a new road linking the proposed development to the A505. Where that might be built is not apparent at the moment.

Therefore it does not appear that NHDC and Luton Borough Council are in agreement on this roads and traffic planning transport issue.

With 2,100 new homes and probably an average of 2 cars per household we are looking at an extra 4000 cars in this area. If even a relatively small proportion of those cars make regular trips to the east (some people probably will work in Hitchin or Stevenage) the chances are they will use the single track roads down to Lilley Bottom and thence to Hitchin - roads already unsuitable and surprisingly busy at rush hours. Traffic westwards into Luton especially at rush hours will add further pressure to already busy access roads.

The NHDC belief that the new development will enable sustainable transport journeys to be made to key services and locations is unlikely to be realised to a large extent in practice. If people in the new development work in the centre of Luton or commute into London, then the likelihood is cars will be used on the already busy roads, especially in rush hours. CAG Consultants said: 'the site is a long distance from the Luton town centre and the topography is undulating which would be a discouragement to walking or cycling into the town. The site is over 3km from Luton station so residents are likely to use private vehicles to commute and access services in Luton. The local road network into North Hertfordshire is sub-standard and development could reduce accessibility for existing residents".

There seems to be no provision in the Local Plan to cater for the existing residents of the Cockernhoe area who wish to travel eastwards towards Hitchin /Stevenage, given that the same CAG consultants also stated that this development 'could reduce accessibility for existing residents due to the sub-standard of the existing roads into North Hertfordshire?

Fundamentally we contend that the sustainable transport aspirations in the NHDC Local Plan in relation to the proposed development east of Luton is unlikely to be deliverable in reality and therefore should be regarded as not 'sound'.

Modification objection - Policy SP8 Housing - objection on the grounds that it is not at all certain that Luton has an unmet housing need of 1,950 homes that needs to be provided for by the proposed development to the East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3).

Modification: MM035 - Page 19

Page: LP pages 47-48

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP8
Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure the Plan is positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy following Matter 2,3,4,8,10 and 12 hearing sessions and consequential to MM010 (ED53, ED54, ED60, ED83, ED139, ED140, ED144, ED149).


THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Section (b) of this policy states that HNDC will : ' provide additional land within the Luton HMA for a further 1950 net new homes as a contribution towards the unmet needs arising from Luton'.

It is our contention that the unmet housing need from Luton can better be achieved through additional house building within the Luton town boundaries, or from within the Central Bedfordshire District Council land adjoining Luton to the north and west. Both of these two authorities have indicated that they can probably provide more housing to meet Luton's unmet needs and in better locations to the urban area and transport links, thus cancelling out the requirement for homes needed from NHDC land.
Luton Borough Council has over-delivered on housing supply in the past 10 years and its plans to build 8,500 homes within its town boundaries to meet part of its own unmet housing needs are almost exclusively on brownfield sites. Nonetheless Luton BC has indicated that it is possible that additional houses could be built on some of these sites and there are other brownfield sites that could also be used for housing. The projected re-siting of Luton Town Football Club from Kenilworth Road to the Power Court site in the next few years will further free up another big space for more housing - none of which in included in Luton BC's housing projections at the moment, other than an aspirational indication of housing possibilities on the Kenilworth Road site towards the end of the 2031 period.
Central Bedfordshire has identified 669 sites for which planning permission for new housing has not yet been given. Of these 25 sites are within easy distance of the Luton conurbation and totals over 4,000 hectares (by comparison the East of Luton site totals 116.7 hectares) Quite a few of these sites are not in the Green Belt.
NHDC's generous offer of 1,950 homes in an area of unspoilt Green Belt countryside is perverse when it is obvious that there is much more land available in Central Bedfordshire, as well as the prospect that Luton BC could build more homes than its target . Furthermore, the firm offer from NHDC is ridiculous when it is quite clear that Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council are not in agreement as to how many homes they can each build and where they should be built.
NHDC has been far too eager to offer this land for Luton's unmet housing needs to the detriment of the Green Belt and the existing villages and residents around Cockernhoe. It would have been far better for NHDC to have made a conditional offer of the possibility of building homes in the Cockernhoe area, although Green Belt considerations would have to weigh heavily, to meet some of Luton's unmet housing needs, once the two authorities of LBC and CBC resolved their disagreements about how many homes they can build and where they should be built?

Modification objection - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2 and EL3 - East of Luton - objections as already expressed.

Modification: MM083 - Page 43

Page: LP71

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP19

Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure Plan is positively prepared, justified and effective (LP3, MOU5, NHDC Matter 10 statement (ED54, ED83, ED144)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

There are two arguments which have been used above but which are still applicable to this Policy LP71, namely:

point (d) in the policy regarding transport (see Modification objection (7) above);
point (f) in the policy related to Luton's unmet housing needs and the contribution from within North Herts District Council of 1,950 homes from this proposed site (see Modification objection (8) above.

Modification objection - Cockernhoe and East of Luton

Modification: MM221 - Page 112

Page: LP150

Policy/Paragraph: Paragraph 13.66

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 5 Hearing
Session.

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The final two sentences of the paragraph read: 'The boundary has been drawn so as to include both the village of Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green and the adjoining expansion of
Luton. Outside this boundary the rest of the Cockernhoe ward is classed as Green Belt.'

For the avoidance of doubt it should be accurately noted that the proposed expansion is not adjoining from Luton; but rather is adjoining towards Luton.

Modification objection - Reference to the Luton HMA

Modification: MM410 - Page 164
Page: LP224
Policy/Paragraph: 14.39
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness
THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This section dealing with the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA) explains how the authorities in this HMA - namely Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire District Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have worked together and jointly commissioned and subsequently agreed a Growth Options Study which demonstrates sufficient potential capacity within the Luton HMA to accommodate Luton's unmet housing needs.
What this section does not say was that this Growth Options Study identified two small parcels of land that are not geographically in the Luton or Central Bedfordshire authorities areas - namely the land to the East of Luton (i.e. Cockernhoe land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) and a bigger piece of land within Aylesbury Vale DC (AVDC) at Edlesborough. It has 3,100 people representing barely 1% of the total population of the Luton HMA (over 322,000). Despite this small number it is still approximately twice the size/contribution of the NHDC land that forms part of the Luton HMA and ten times the size of the even smaller parcel of land around Cockernhoe that is slated for development.
In reality both the NHDC and AVDC contributions to the Luton HMA are statistically insignificant.

Despite the fact that this Edlesborough land is not within the Green Belt and could accommodate 1,200 homes with potentiality for almost 4,500, the four authorities between them saw fit to reject development on this land, despite the fact that on many criteria this parcel of land scored as well, if not better, than the proposed development East of Luton.

It is our contention that the inclusion of the land east of Luton in with the Luton HMA has resulted is this small parcel and the three villages with its population of circa 500 (around 0.1% of the Luton HMA population) being earmarked to provide 1,950 homes out of the total of 9300 that is the unmet housing need of Luton - that is 21% of the total build. Totally out of all proportion.

It is also our contention that NHDC's firm offer of housing from around Cockernhoe has simply allowed both LBC and CBC to assume that they don't have to build as many homes in their own geographic areas, thus making life easier for them, rather than forcing them to make bigger efforts to solve their own housing problems?
It is also our contention that AVDC - which doesn't even include the fact that a parcel of its land is part of the Luton HMA in its Local Plan or in the Statement of Common Ground signed with NHDC - has benefited from NHDC's capitulation in not defending its own land parcel strongly enough. NHDC has been too keen to be seen to be complying with the Duty to Co-operate; a stance that is not emulated by other authorities.

Examination of Evidence Document ED140 - Matter 4 The Housing Strategy: Supply of land for housing - dated 1 April 2017
Appendix 3 - Revised North Herts Housing Trajectory

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT
This document has been included in those among the Evidence Documents (ED137-ED158) on which the Inspector has requested any representations.
Appendix 3 of this document provides a table showing the planned building of homes on the three sites to the east of Luton (EL1/EL2 and EL3). This chart shows the following delivery profile for the building of the 2,100 homes proposed:

2021 140 homes 140 homes
2022-2027 190 homes per year = 1140 homes
2028-2031 205 homes per year = 820 homes
Total delivery 2100 homes over 11 years

However, these figures and delivery profile do not agree with the more recent Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) - ED28 - signed in November 2017 between NHDC, Bloor Homes and The Crown Estate.
This SOCG paints a rather different picture, showing the following:

2021 80 homes 80 homes
2022-2027 130 homes per year = 780 homes
2028-2031 135 homes per year = 540 homes
Total delivery 1400 homes

There is a shortfall of 700 homes during the Plan period.
Ominously, the SOCG states that after 2031 the build of homes will continue at the rate of 135 homes per year until the site is completed. This is a further 5 years, meaning that according to this SOCG, construction of the 2,100 homes on this proposed development will last a total of 16 years until 2035!!
We contend that there is at the very least a significant discrepancy between these two papers - one of which the Inspector has required to be submitted for Evidence and consultation and the other (the SOCG), which is of a more recent date, and which to be found buried amongst the evidence documents.
This is a serious discrepancy which goes to the very heart of the proposal by NHDC to build these homes to the east of Luton. We now find that instead of construction earmarked to be over the life of the Local Plan - 11 years - which is bad enough for the residents of the villages around Cockernhoe - the actual truth of the matter, hidden away in the SOCG, is that a further five years of misery are to endured by the local population to make 16 years of construction in the area - let alone the construction of the infrastructure that is also planned (2 schools, roads, A class retails, possibly a police base etc.).
An enquiry surely needs to be held to determine whether officials/elected representatives of NHDC are complicit in this - what seems to be - deception. In the meantime, this is further evidence that the plans for proposed housing East of Luton should be scrapped.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7054

Received: 11/03/2019

Respondent: Pirton Parish Council

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7093

Received: 06/03/2019

Respondent: CPRE Hertfordshire

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7152

Received: 18/03/2019

Respondent: Mr Roy Parker

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

As a regulation 19 respondent I make representation on the Inspector's main modifications with regard to issues that I do not think has been adequately addressed. I refer also to my initial representation of 29th November 2016 to the submission document and my letter of 6th January 2018 written statement to the examination.

Settlement boundary of Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green as category "A" villages under SP2
I have previously recorded my firm view that the above settlement boundary should not incorporate the East of Luton area of EL1, 2 & 3 under SP19. This area should be identified by a distinct settlement boundary of its' own.
The East of Luton development under SP19, if it is finally adopted, should not be identified as part of Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green because to the best of my knowledge not one person living here has responded in favour of that development and many have responded against it.
There is a possibility of a judicial review against SP19 and if that happens then it would be best for that element of the Local Plan to be isolated so that the remainder of the Local Plan can proceed for the benefit of the community.
I made this point in my letter of 6th January 2018 concerning points 10.29 (a) & (b) of the Inspector's Schedule of Matters and in my email of 29th November 2016 under references 4.9, 4.13 and 13.66 of the Local Plan submission document. For convenience I attach Appendix "B" to my letter of 6th January 2018 showing the "true" settlement boundary of Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green contained within the wider settlement boundary incorporating EL1,2 & 3.
In the Inspector's main modifications under:
MM010 and MM013 -SP2 -Category "A" villages -both clear examples that Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green's defined settlement boundary does not refer to the wider area incorporating EL1,2 &3.
MM023 (a)(iii) - SP5 -this similarly should not include EL1,2 & 3 within the Category "A" villages settlement boundaries
MM038 -where the settlement boundaries of Category "A" villages are stated as allowing for approx. 400 homes, this obviously cannot include EL1,2 &3.
Overall the inclusion of the 2,100 homes labelled as part of Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green settlement boundary is offensive to residents who have fought against the damage this will do to their rural way of life.

Central Bedfordshire draft Local Plan 2015-2035 published June 2017
Central Bedfordshire's initial Local Plan was thrown out by the Government appointed Inspector. It did not comply with the duty to co-operate with Luton's unmet housing needs. In June 2017 they published their revised draft Local Plan. Luton's housing market area showed a shortfall of 9,300 new dwellings and Central Bedfordshire's revised Local Plan includes providing 7,350 new dwellings to assist Luton with the balance of 1,950 coming from North Herts DC. One element of Central Beds 7,350 new dwellings is 2,000 homes West of Luton, near Caddington. Central Bedfordshire's draft local plan makes an excellent point, which I have highlighted in red, concerning these additional dwellings near Caddington, as follows:
"The proposal is to expand Luton to the west of the M1 and to the western edge of Luton. The village of Caddington lies to the west of the site and Woodside and Slip End villages lie to the south. It would be appropriately separated from these existing villages, as well as from the Caddington Woods development, to prevent coalescence of settlements."
Is the Inspector aware that Bloor Homes outline plan is significantly different from the one that they consulted on? In their initial consultation plan the nearest building to Dancote, situated at the edge of Cockernhoe, built in 1915 and one of the oldest properties in Cockernhoe, was planned to be 100 metres away and in the revised "Illustrative Masterplan" it is now 20 metres away! If Central Beds Council's policy is to safeguard existing villages from coalescence by "appropriate separation" why is it that NHDC fail to adopt a similar policy for the good of their existing communities? Whilst I am totally against the East of Luton development I believe the least we should expect from NHDC is that there is "appropriate separation" for Cockernhoe, Mangrove and Tea Green. In my view this should be a minimum of 100 metres. I drew attention to the change in plans and closeness to Cockernhoe in my objection to Bloor Homes outline planning application under reference 17/00830/1 of 13th April 2017. You will note this outline planning application was submitted after my email of 29th November 2016 concerning the submission document. If Central Beds can put this in their Local Plan then surely North Herts DC should do the same as a commitment.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7153

Received: 07/03/2019

Respondent: Codicote Parish Council

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7156

Received: 24/02/2019

Respondent: Mr Andrew R Thomas

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

1) Subject: Modification Objection - Hundreds of Representors Lost from the Examination Process.
Modification: MM001 - p.0
Page LP 1: 0
Policy/Paragraph: About this consultation
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Delete
Inspector's Reason/source: For INSERTED: effectiveness; Consultation has occurred

THIS REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION:
Our community has identified between 99 - 195 people who made their objection/ representations at Regulation 19, but which those same Objection Statements, the Council failed to publish.
If you find this respondent's name not on the list of Representors for the Examination, then it is possible this writer is amongst those respondents wrongly excluded from participation after Regulation 19. This is something you will need to investigate thoroughly for yourself.
As a result these participants (residents of East Luton and North Hertfordshire) have been left out of all communications from the Council thereafter.
Furthermore the Inspector also failed to inform these representors of their right to participate at Regulation 22.
The basis for modification MM001 therefore cannot apply so this Paragraph should not be removed.
The reason it should not be removed is because Consultation has not yet occurred for a very large number of representors who did make their Objections known to the Council at Regulation 19.
This Consultation must now be halted and there must be a detailed investigation conducted to establish exactly who was left out of the Examination Procedures at Regulation 22, why and who was responsible for excluding them.
Having been entirely left out of the Examination Consultation and participation process at Regulation 22, they were also denied all opportunity to put in any of their further "Matter Statements" at the start of this Examination. Consequentially they have also been left out of this current Modification Consultation.
This shocking event has occurred and leaves a heavy pressing question mark hanging over the already shadowy legitimacy of North Herts District Council's Local Plan and the hidden plans of its architects.
The Consultation cannot continue without all representors who made their views known in writing at Regulation 19. These representors must be afforded their due rights for fair Consultation at all stages beyond Regulation 19, under the Town and Country Planning Act and other Laws.
For this reason it is our urgent demand to the Inspector, and Secretary of State, and our MPs - that this Consultation be immediately suspended; until the exact numbers left out of this Consultation can be clearly identified and established. Also that the person/s responsible for this unacceptable breach be clearly identified. And their motives for removing such a huge number of representors be brought to the forefront for examination.
We are trying to establish the exact number of representors who were left out of the Consultation process, but the current number is running at, at least 74; with numerous additional people surfacing. But this is your job not ours' to investigate what has gone wrong. And you will need time to do that. So this Consultation must be suspended.
All members of the Public and stakeholders must be allowed by Law to participate in every stage of a Public Consultation without discrimination. Any Inspector judging the soundness of a Plan's preparation would know that it is simply not sound preparation by anyone's standards - to leave any, let alone such a huge number of Objectors out!

2) Modification objection - Policy SP1 - Sustainable development in North Hertfordshire - failure to protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1, EL2 and EL3)
Modification: MM008 - page 5 Parts (ii) and (iv)
Page LP 31
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP1 (c) (ii) and (iv)
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Revised
Inspector's reason/source: For effectiveness as proposed in LP3

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part (iv) states that this Plan 'will protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment including biodiversity, important landscapes, heritage assets and green infrastructure'.
This statement does not accord with the facts specifically below:
This stated policy does not meet the following three key objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in so far as it relates to the land parcel EL1/EL2 and EL3.
* ENV 1: Direct development towards the most sustainable locations which seek to maintain the existing settlement pattern. Arguably this objective cannot be said to be met by a development which totally destroys the existing settlement pattern).
* ENV 2: Protect and enhance the historic character of North Hertfordshire's towns, villages, hamlets and landscape by promoting good design that creates a distinctive sense of place. This objective cannot possibly be said to be met through a development that destroys and degrades the historic character of the three villages, and destroys the Green Belt landscape. The distinctive sense of place currently enjoyed by the three villages will be utterly destroyed by the swathe of new housing and other buildings that will surround and engulf the villages, no matter how good the design of the new development might be.
* ENV 3: Protect, maintain and enhance the District's historic and natural environment, its cultural assets and network of open spaces, urban and rural landscapes. The rural landscape to the west of the three villages will be lost for ever, as will be the network of open spaces.

In addition:

* The wildlife in this area will be displaced. We have healthy populations of deer, bats, owls, red kites and woodpeckers, to name but a few. So-called wildlife corridors are no substitute.
* The Chiltern Way national path runs from the south right through Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green thence to the north east - what impact will these new developments have on this prestige footpath route which is well used by walkers?
* This proposed development will not help to achieve policy ECON6 in the National Planning Policy Framework economic objectives which is to "Sustain the vitality of our villages and the rural economy in supporting rural diversification, whilst ensuring development is of an appropriate scale and character". It is obvious there
is no way this objective can be said to be met. Grade 3 agricultural land will be lost to make way for the new homes, the vitality and loss of identity of the three blighted villages will never be regained and the development on such a huge scale can never be described as being of an appropriate scale and character.

Part (ii) states that (inter alia): "provide opportunities for health lifestyle choices."

* If this development is allowed to go ahead in EL1. EL2 and EL3 it will have a detrimental effect on greenspace for people already living in the new area. Luton already has a very poor record in this regard. The Green Infrastructure Plan for Luton mentions the strategic role and importance of green space across the borough and its interrelationship with green space in neighbouring authorities to make publicly accessible open space assets available to all Luton residents as the population grows. Already in Luton, the town fails in 7 out of 10 categories to meet the current greenspace requirements - to the tune of 352 hectares. The loss of 116 hectares from the Cockernhoe Green Belt to housing will simply magnify that problem - not improve the situation - and Luton people already living In Wigmore will suffer from the loss of the greenspace.

Combined together these elements of Policy SP1 cannot therefore be said to be 'sound'.

Modification objection - Policy SP2 - Settlement Hierarchy and Spatial Distribution - fundamental objection to the plans for 2,100 homes to the East of Luton in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.
Modification: MM010 - page 6
Page LP 32
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP2
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness to better explain the spatial strategy of the Plan following Matter 2 Hearing Session (ED53; ED138)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states that "approximately 80% of the District's housing settlement and the substantial majority of new employment, retail and other development will be located within the adjusted settlement boundaries of the following towns".
It then goes on to include Luton with the proposed 2,100 homes.
* The clear impression given by this statement is that these new homes are to be located within Luton's boundary area as opposed to the reality that these homes are scheduled for build on land in North Hertfordshire. This also gives the impression that this new development effectively will become part of Luton, rather than remaining in North Hertfordshire.
* We object to the sheer scale of this proposed development which is out of all proportion to the area. We do not believe the building of so many homes in the Cockernhoe area, and at such a scale, can be justified when compared to the likely impact of proposed developments on other areas of North Herts. This small area of just some 200 homes and a population of 400 in what is protected Green Belt land will suffer the largest increase in percentage terms across the whole NHDC district - a 1050% increase in home building -and much higher than anywhere else in percentage terms. In real housing terms this proposed development will be much bigger than developments planned for much larger centres such as Stevenage, Royston and Hitchin.

* This new development accounts for 13.16 % of all the new housing totals for North Hertfordshire under this Local Plan.

3) Modification objection - Policy SP4 - Town centres, local centres and community shops - fundamental objection to the proposed building of Class A retail in among the housing development planned for east of Luton in parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

Modification: MM17 - page 10

Page: LP38

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 14 hearing sessions (ED56, ED77, ED117 and ED151)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states, inter alia, that amongst the new retail developments 'identified in this plan will be one East of Luton in the strategic site'.

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here, because whereas there is further information given as to the types of retail provision planned for the major centres located in North Herts, there is absolutely no information given as to the scale of type of retail provision planned for the site east of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

* In fact in the full Local Plan draft it does state that the provision in the East of Luton plans call for a new local centre. This will include 250 square metres of Class A1 convenience retail provision and 850 sq.m of other A-class floor-space and other necessary social infrastructure (implies small shops, fast food delivery, newsagents for the 250 sq. m; what will be involved in the 850 sq.m is unsure.

* We contend that this scale of development, alongside the 2,100 homes planned is totally out of scale and proportion to the area.

4) Modification Objection - Policy SP4 - Town Centres, local centres and community shops - objection to the inherent threat posed by the stated future proposal for the new retail centre in among the housing development planned for the East of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM020 - pages 12-13

Page: LP39

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4; paragraph 4.44

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The statement at paragraph 4.44 states: "The growth of the District will require additional centres to be provided to serve the urban extensions at Baldock and on the edge of Luton. Once built these will become local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals within them will be assessed appropriately".

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here because the so-called growth of the District to the east of Luton is almost totally geared to meeting a proportion of Luton's unmet housing needs, not because of the needs of the current residents of the three villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green.

* Furthermore, we believe this local centre be the thin edge of the wedge. The plan states that once built the new centres will be "local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals for them will be assessed appropriately." This is vague and threatening in terms of even more development likely to occur in the future.

5) Modification Objection - Policy SP5 - Countryside and Green Belt - objection to the removal of Green Belt protection from the East of Luton area in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM023 - pages 13-14

Page: LP41

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP5

Inspector's proposed modifications: For consistency with national policy and legal compliance following Matter 15 hearing session (NHDC Matter 15 hearing statement ED55; ED152)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part of this policy states that NHDC' has conducted a comprehensive review of the Green Belt. Land has been removed from the Green belt to:

- Enable strategic development at the SP8 location - which is land East of Luton
- Have provided new Green Belt to cover, in general terms, the area bounded by the Metropolitan Green belt to the east, the Luton Green Belt to the west and the A505 Offley by-pass to the north;
- Will only permit development proposals in the Green Belt where they would not result in inappropriate development or where very special circumstances have been demonstrated'.

* It is our contention that in re -drafting this section to make it consistent with national policy, it has in fact exposed the weakness of the NHDC position in relation to the Green Belt in this area as explained below.

* It is our contention that NHDC is being economic with the truth here. What it fails to mention is that the comprehensive review of the Green Belt in the land to the East of Luton (parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) first carried out several years ago identified that against the fundamental purposes 1 and 3 the Green Belt surrounding Cockernhoe made a SIGNIFICANT contribution to Green Belt purposes whereas the areas of Green Belt to the north and south (which are not proposed for development) registered only as MODERATE.

* The review also measured against purpose 2 - which is only peripheral in this case -because, although this area is located in the gap between Luton and Hitchin, the Green Belt plays a limited role due to the distance between the towns. Similarly against purpose 4 - the Green Belt is also peripheral because there are no historic towns in the area. In both cases it was deemed that the Green Belt score should be lower.

* There surely is an argument that although the three villages are not a town, the Green Belt most certainly preserves the character and setting of these three villages - some of which have been in existence for hundreds of years. However the NHDC review states that as the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green are not towns they are 'not significant from a Green Belt perspective.'

* This is perverse because there would have been no way that these villages would have been able to expand into being small towns because of the Green Belt protection.

* The end result - and it was equally perverse - was that despite measures 1 and 3 being the most important and relevant criteria for this area of the Green Belt achieving a SIGNIFICANT score, the overall score across the four measures was downgraded to what is termed a MODEST contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to our circumstances, were not rated as highly.

* More recently, NHDC revised its Green Belt assessment in a Review published in September 2018. This was done - among other reasons they say - due to criticism of the methodologies previously used and new better practice, but it clearly was also due to representations made by respondents (including a barrister representing Save our Green Belt who cited case law). There was very little publicity about this revised assessment; simply a document placed online in amongst hundreds of others and hardly noticeable.

* So where we are now is that the area around Cockernhoe has been re-assessed as making an overall SIGNIFICANT contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt, but it has taken over 2.5 years for NHDC to come belatedly to this conclusion.

* However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because it is deemed a strategic site and these sites are fundamental to the Plan's strategy. Also, it is the only one available to NHDC in this area that allows them under the Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring authorities to contribute to the unmet needs of the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA), but we also contend that the Duty to Co-operate has been grossly over-stipulated and over-planned by NHDC to the detriment of the existing settlements and residents around the Cockernhoe area.

* We would challenge NHDC strongly on the conclusions it has reached concerning changes to the existing Green Belt designations.

* When arriving at these conclusions NHDC has very conveniently glossed over the extremely pertinent and important fact that our area is now recognised as making a Significant Overall contribution to the Green Belt - probably one of the highest Green Belt ratings that can we awarded - yet it has concluded that despite this accolade the development to the 'East of Luton' should proceed simply because, it believes, its requirement to meet its housing targets overrides all other considerations.

* To the cynic it might appear that this was merely a masterly piece of duplicitous, sleight of hand employed solely to suit NHDC's preferred outcome. We require NHDC to explain/justify the criteria it employed when considering and arriving at its, possibly pre-determined, conclusion.

* Furthermore, we believe that this plan to remove the Green Belt from the Cockernhoe area will not sit well with the statement by Brandon Lewis, the then Minister of State for Housing and Local Planning in a letter to MPs June 7, 2016, which said: "The Government has put in place the strongest protections for the Green Belt. The framework makes it clear that inappropriate development may be allowed only in exceptional circumstances through the Local Plan process and with the support of local people. We have been repeatedly clear that demand for housing alone will not change the Green Belt boundaries."

* It is our contention that that the loss of the green belt around Cockernhoe together with the engulfing of three villages does not represent 'exceptional circumstances' to justify removing the green belt. We would also contend that the scale of this proposed development is totally inappropriate to this rural area and it certainly does not have the support of local people.

* This is especially so since both Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council have stated that in all probability they could build more houses in their respective areas to meet Luton's unmet housing needs and at better, more convenient locations, closer to the urban areas of Luton and to the better transport links. At the very least this holds out a realistic prospect that NHDC will not have to build 2,100 homes east of Luton and should result in the immediate halting of the development plans for this area East of Luton.

* NHDC also states that it plans to replace the Green Belt to the East of Luton area with another new Green Belt to the immediate east of the proposed development to protect the countryside from the urban sprawl it proposes to create and to prevent coalescence with Hitchin and Stevenage. We would argue that if the proposed development is allowed to go ahead, creating - in effect - a greater Luton eastwards it will only be a matter of time before this new proposed Green Belt area becomes under threat from further Luton expansion. What trust would the residents in the villages in this area put in NHDC given their actions towards the residents of the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green?

* Fundamentally the removal of the Green Belt in the Cockernhoe area to facilitate this proposed huge housing/infrastructure development is not 'sound' and should be rejected.

6) Modification objection - Policy SP6 - Sustainable Transport - objection on the ground that the aspirations of the NHDC planners to create sustainable transport provision in the proposed development East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) is unlikely to be achieved in practice.

Modification: MM028 page 15

Page: LP43

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP6

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 16 Hearing Session (ED55, ED105, ED153).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The wording in SP6 is aspirational, talking of sustainable transport, cycle ways, walking etc. However, in relation to the proposed development east of Luton we would contend that, in large part, these aspirations are unlikely to be delivered for a variety of the following reasons:

* Road access will be from Luton Road (presumably much wider!!) and integrated into Luton's road network through Crawley Green Road, plus transport mitigation efforts to address impacts upon Luton. The NHDC Local Plan states that it believes the development can be accommodated 'without a significant adverse impact on the wider highway networks of Luton and Hertfordshire'.

* This doesn't tie in with the inadequacy of the roads to the east, plus the needs for mitigation methods to address impacts on Luton. The possible expansion of the secondary school to meet needs from the rural east will mean extra traffic (school runs) on the already inadequate single track roads.

* By contrast the Luton Local Plan indicates that the large East of Luton development will affect the local road network and there are likely to be affects in terms of increased traffic congestion and associated pollution. It also states in relation to the expansion of Luton Airport that this will create significant extra traffic to the airport, including an east-west direction through North Hertfordshire. This will add to the pressure on transport and infrastructure in the Luton Local Plan. Luton has also indicated that it foresees the need for a new road linking the proposed development to the A505. Where that might be built is not apparent at the moment.

* Therefore it does not appear that NHDC and Luton Borough Council are in agreement on this roads and traffic planning transport issue.

* With 2,100 new homes and probably an average of 2 cars per household we are looking at an extra 4000 cars in this area. If even a relatively small proportion of those cars make regular trips to the east (some people probably will work in Hitchin or Stevenage) the chances are they will use the single track roads down to Lilley Bottom and thence to Hitchin - roads already unsuitable and surprisingly busy at rush hours. Traffic westwards into Luton especially at rush hours will add further pressure to already busy access roads.

* The NHDC belief that the new development will enable sustainable transport journeys to be made to key services and locations is unlikely to be realised to a large extent in practice. If people in the new development work in the centre of Luton or commute into London, then the likelihood is cars will be used on the already busy roads, especially in rush hours. CAG Consultants said: 'the site is a long distance from the Luton town centre and the topography is undulating which would be a discouragement to walking or cycling into the town. The site is over 3km from Luton station so residents are likely to use private vehicles to commute and access services in Luton. The local road network into North Hertfordshire is sub-standard and development could reduce accessibility for existing residents".

* There seems to be no provision in the Local Plan to cater for the existing residents of the Cockernhoe area who wish to travel eastwards towards Hitchin /Stevenage, given that the same CAG consultants also stated that this development 'could reduce accessibility for existing residents due to the sub-standard of the existing roads into North Hertfordshire?

* Fundamentally we contend that the sustainable transport aspirations in the NHDC Local Plan in relation to the proposed development east of Luton is unlikely to be deliverable in reality and therefore should be regarded as not 'sound'.

7) Modification objection - Policy SP8 Housing - objection on the grounds that it is not at all certain that Luton has an unmet housing need of 1,950 homes that needs to be provided for by the proposed development to the East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3).

Modification: MM035 - Page 19

Page: LP pages 47-48

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP8
Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure the Plan is positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy following Matter 2,3,4,8,10 and 12 hearing sessions and consequential to MM010 (ED53, ED54, ED60, ED83, ED139, ED140, ED144, ED149).


THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Section (b) of this policy states that HNDC will: ' provide additional land within the Luton
HMA for a further 1950 net new homes as a contribution towards the unmet needs arising
from Luton'.

* It is our contention that the unmet housing need from Luton can better be achieved through additional house building within the Luton town boundaries, or from within the Central Bedfordshire District Council land adjoining Luton to the north and west. Both of these two authorities have indicated that they can probably provide more housing to meet Luton's unmet needs and in better locations to the urban area and transport links, thus cancelling out the requirement for homes needed from NHDC land.
* Luton Borough Council has over-delivered on housing supply in the past 10 years and its plans to build 8,500 homes within its town boundaries to meet part of its own unmet housing needs are almost exclusively on brownfield sites. Nonetheless Luton BC has indicated that it is possible that additional houses could be built on some of these sites and there are other brownfield sites that could also be used for housing. The projected re-siting of Luton Town Football Club from Kenilworth Road to the Power Court site in the next few years will further free up another big space for more housing - none of which in included in Luton BC's housing projections at the moment, other than an aspirational indication of housing possibilities on the Kenilworth Road site towards the end of the 2031 period.
* Central Bedfordshire has identified 669 sites for which planning permission for new housing has not yet been given. Of these 25 sites are within easy distance of the Luton conurbation and totals over 4,000 hectares (by comparison the East of Luton site totals 116.7 hectares) Quite a few of these sites are not in the Green Belt.
* NHDC's generous offer of 1,950 homes in an area of unspoilt Green Belt countryside is perverse when it is obvious that there is much more land available in Central Bedfordshire, as well as the prospect that Luton BC could build more homes than its target . Furthermore, the firm offer from NHDC is ridiculous when it is quite clear that Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council are not in agreement as to how many homes they can each build and where they should be built.
* NHDC has been far too eager to offer this land for Luton's unmet housing needs to the detriment of the Green Belt and the existing villages and residents around Cockernhoe. It would have been far better for NHDC to have made a conditional offer of the possibility of building homes in the Cockernhoe area, although Green Belt considerations would have to weigh heavily, to meet some of Luton's unmet housing needs, once the two authorities of LBC and CBC resolved their disagreements about how many homes they can build and where they should be built?

8) Modification objection - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2 and EL3 - East of Luton - objections as already expressed.

Modification: MM083 - Page 43

Page: LP71

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP19

Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure Plan is positively prepared, justified and effective (LP3, MOU5, NHDC Matter 10 statement (ED54, ED83, ED144)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

There are two arguments which have been used above but which are still applicable to this Policy LP71, namely:

* point (d) in the policy regarding transport (see Modification objection (7) above);
* point (f) in the policy related to Luton's unmet housing needs and the contribution from within North Herts District Council of 1,950 homes from this proposed site (see Modification objection (8) above.

9) Modification objection - Cockernhoe and East of Luton

Modification: MM221 - Page 112

Page: LP150

Policy/Paragraph: Paragraph 13.66

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 5 Hearing
Session.

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The final two sentences of the paragraph read: 'The boundary has been drawn so as to include both the village of Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green and the adjoining expansion of
Luton. Outside this boundary the rest of the Cockernhoe ward is classed as Green Belt.'

* For the avoidance of doubt it should be accurately noted that the proposed expansion is not adjoining from Luton; but rather is adjoining towards Luton.

10) Modification objection - Reference to the Luton HMA

Modification: MM410 - Page 164
Page: LP224
Policy/Paragraph: 14.39
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness
THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This section dealing with the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA) explains how the authorities in this HMA - namely Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire District Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have worked together and jointly commissioned and subsequently agreed a Growth Options Study which demonstrates sufficient potential capacity within the Luton HMA to accommodate Luton's unmet housing needs.
* What this section does not say was that this Growth Options Study identified two small parcels of land that are not geographically in the Luton or Central Bedfordshire authorities areas - namely the land to the East of Luton (i.e. Cockernhoe land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) and a bigger piece of land within Aylesbury Vale DC (AVDC) at Edlesborough. It has 3,100 people representing barely 1% of the total population of the Luton HMA (over 322,000). Despite this small number it is still approximately twice the size/contribution of the NHDC land that forms part of the Luton HMA and ten times the size of the even smaller parcel of land around Cockernhoe that is slated for development.
* In reality both the NHDC and AVDC contributions to the Luton HMA are statistically insignificant.
* Despite the fact that this Edlesborough land is not within the Green Belt and could accommodate 1,200 homes with potentiality for almost 4,500, the four authorities between them saw fit to reject development on this land, despite the fact that on many criteria this parcel of land scored as well, if not better, than the proposed development East of Luton.
* It is our contention that the inclusion of the land east of Luton in with the Luton HMA has resulted is this small parcel and the three villages with its population of circa 500 (around 0.1% of the Luton HMA population) being earmarked to provide 1,950 homes out of the total of 9300 that is the unmet housing need of Luton - that is 21% of the total build. Totally out of all proportion.
* It is also our contention that NHDC's firm offer of housing from around Cockernhoe has simply allowed both LBC and CBC to assume that they don't have to build as many homes in their own geographic areas, thus making life easier for them, rather than forcing them to make bigger efforts to solve their own housing problems?
* It is also our contention that AVDC - which doesn't even include the fact that a parcel of its land is part of the Luton HMA in its Local Plan or in the Statement of Common Ground signed with NHDC - has benefited from NHDC's capitulation in not defending its own land parcel strongly enough. NHDC has been too keen to be seen to be complying with the Duty to Co-operate; a stance that is not emulated by other authorities.

11) Examination of Evidence Document ED140 - Matter 4 The Housing Strategy: Supply of land for housing - dated 1 April 2017
Appendix 3 - Revised North Herts Housing Trajectory

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT
This document has been included in those among the Evidence Documents (ED137-ED158) on which the Inspector has requested any representations.
Appendix 3 of this document provides a table showing the planned building of homes on the three sites to the east of Luton (EL1/EL2 and EL3). This chart shows the following delivery profile for the building of the 2,100 homes proposed:

2021 140 homes 140 homes
2022-2027 190 homes per year = 1140 homes
2028-2031 205 homes per year = 820 homes
Total delivery 2100 homes over 11 years

* However, these figures and delivery profile do not agree with the more recent Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) - ED28 - signed in November 2017 between NHDC, Bloor Homes and The Crown Estate.
* This SOCG paints a rather different picture, showing the following:

2021 80 homes 80 homes
2022-2027 130 homes per year = 780 homes
2028-2031 135 homes per year = 540 homes
Total delivery 1400 homes

* There is a shortfall of 700 homes during the Plan period.
* Ominously, the SOCG states that after 2031 the build of homes will continue at the rate of 135 homes per year until the site is completed. This is a further 5 years, meaning that according to this SOCG, construction of the 2,100 homes on this proposed development will last a total of 16 years until 2035!!
* We contend that there is at the very least a significant discrepancy between these two papers - one of which the Inspector has required to be submitted for Evidence and consultation and the other (the SOCG), which is of a more recent date, and which to be found buried amongst the evidence documents.
* This is a serious discrepancy which goes to the very heart of the proposal by NHDC to build these homes to the east of Luton. We now find that instead of construction earmarked to be over the life of the Local Plan - 11 years - which is bad enough for the residents of the villages around Cockernhoe - the actual truth of the matter, hidden away in the SOCG, is that a further five years of misery are to endured by the local population to make 16 years of construction in the area - let alone the construction of the infrastructure that is also planned (2 schools, roads, A class retails, possibly a police base etc.).
* An enquiry surely needs to be held to determine whether officials/elected representatives of NHDC are complicit in this - what seems to be - deception. In the meantime, this is further evidence that the plans for proposed housing East of Luton should be scrapped.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7181

Received: 23/03/2019

Respondent: Mrs Debbie Young

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

1. Subject: Modification Objection - Hundreds of Representors Lost from the Examination Process.
Modification: MM001 - p.0
Page LP 1: 0
Policy/Paragraph: About this consultation
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Delete
Inspector's Reason/source: For INSERTED: effectiveness; Consultation has occurred

THIS REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION:
Our community has identified between 99 - 195 people who made their objection/ representations at Regulation 19, but which those same Objection Statements, the Council failed to publish.
If you find this respondent's name not on the list of Representors for the Examination, then it is possible this writer is amongst those respondents wrongly excluded from participation after Regulation 19. This is something you will need to investigate thoroughly for yourself.
As a result these participants (residents of East Luton and North Hertfordshire) have been left out of all communications from the Council thereafter.
Furthermore the Inspector also failed to inform these representors of their right to participate at Regulation 22.
The basis for modification MM001 therefore cannot apply so this Paragraph should not be removed.
The reason it should not be removed is because Consultation has not yet occurred for a very large number of representors who did make their Objections known to the Council at Regulation 19.
This Consultation must now be halted and there must be a detailed investigation conducted to establish exactly who was left out of the Examination Procedures at Regulation 22, why and who was responsible for excluding them.
Having been entirely left out of the Examination Consultation and participation process at Regulation 22, they were also denied all opportunity to put in any of their further "Matter Statements" at the start of this Examination. Consequentially they have also been left out of this current Modification Consultation.
This shocking event has occurred and leaves a heavy pressing question mark hanging over the already shadowy legitimacy of North Herts District Council's Local Plan and the hidden plans of its architects.
The Consultation cannot continue without all representors who made their views known in writing at Regulation 19. These representors must be afforded their due rights for fair Consultation at all stages beyond Regulation 19, under the Town and Country Planning Act and other Laws.
For this reason it is our urgent demand to the Inspector, and Secretary of State, and our MPs - that this Consultation be immediately suspended; until the exact numbers left out of this Consultation can be clearly identified and established. Also that the person/s responsible for this unacceptable breach be clearly identified. And their motives for removing such a huge number of representors be brought to the forefront for examination.
We are trying to establish the exact number of representors who were left out of the Consultation process, but the current number is running at, at least 74; with numerous additional people surfacing. But this is your job not ours' to investigate what has gone wrong. And you will need time to do that. So this Consultation must be suspended.
All members of the Public and stakeholders must be allowed by Law to participate in every stage of a Public Consultation without discrimination. Any Inspector judging the soundness of a Plan's preparation would know that it is simply not sound preparation by anyone's standards - to leave any, let alone such a huge number of Objectors out!
2. Modification objection - Policy SP1 - Sustainable development in North Hertfordshire - failure to protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1, EL2 and EL3)
Modification: MM008 - page 5 Parts (ii) and (iv)
Page LP 31
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP1 (c) (ii) and (iv)
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Revised
Inspector's reason/source: For effectiveness as proposed in LP3

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part (iv) states that this Plan 'will protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment including biodiversity, important landscapes, heritage assets and green infrastructure'.
This statement does not accord with the facts specifically below:
This stated policy does not meet the following three key objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in so far as it relates to the land parcel EL1/EL2 and EL3.
* ENV 1: Direct development towards the most sustainable locations which seek to maintain the existing settlement pattern. Arguably this objective cannot be said to be met by a development which totally destroys the existing settlement pattern).
* ENV 2: Protect and enhance the historic character of North Hertfordshire's towns, villages, hamlets and landscape by promoting good design that creates a distinctive sense of place. This objective cannot possibly be said to be met through a development that destroys and degrades the historic character of the three villages, and destroys the Green Belt landscape. The distinctive sense of place currently enjoyed by the three villages will be utterly destroyed by the swathe of new housing and other buildings that will surround and engulf the villages, no matter how good the design of the new development might be.
* ENV 3: Protect, maintain and enhance the District's historic and natural environment, its cultural assets and network of open spaces, urban and rural landscapes. The rural landscape to the west of the three villages will be lost for ever, as will be the network of open spaces.

In addition:
* The wildlife in this area will be displaced. We have healthy populations of deer, bats, owls, red kites and woodpeckers, to name but a few. So-called wildlife corridors are no substitute.
* The Chiltern Way national path runs from the south right through Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green thence to the north east - what impact will these new developments have on this prestige footpath route which is well used by walkers?
* This proposed development will not help to achieve policy ECON6 in the National Planning Policy Framework economic objectives which is to "Sustain the vitality of our villages and the rural economy in supporting rural diversification, whilst ensuring development is of an appropriate scale and character". It is obvious there
is no way this objective can be said to be met. Grade 3 agricultural land will be lost to make way for the new homes, the vitality and loss of identity of the three blighted villages will never be regained and the development on such a huge scale can never be described as being of an appropriate scale and character.
Part (ii) states that (inter alia): "provide opportunities for health lifestyle choices."
* If this development is allowed to go ahead in EL1. EL2 and EL3 it will have a detrimental effect on greenspace for people already living in the new area. Luton already has a very poor record in this regard. The Green Infrastructure Plan for Luton mentions the strategic role and importance of green space across the borough and its interrelationship with green space in neighbouring authorities to make publicly accessible open space assets available to all Luton residents as the population grows. Already in Luton, the town fails in 7 out of 10 categories to meet the current greenspace requirements - to the tune of 352 hectares. The loss of 116 hectares from the Cockernhoe Green Belt to housing will simply magnify that problem - not improve the situation - and Luton people already living In Wigmore will suffer from the loss of the greenspace.

Combined together these elements of Policy SP1 cannot therefore be said to be 'sound'.

3. Modification objection - Policy SP2 - Settlement Hierarchy and Spatial Distribution - fundamental objection to the plans for 2,100 homes to the East of Luton in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3).
Modification: MM010 - page 6
Page LP 32
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP2
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness to better explain the spatial strategy of the Plan following Matter 2 Hearing Session (ED53; ED138)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION
This policy states that "approximately 80% of the District's housing settlement and the substantial majority of new employment, retail and other development will be located within the adjusted settlement boundaries of the following towns".
It then goes on to include Luton with the proposed 2,100 homes.
* The clear impression given by this statement is that these new homes are to be located within Luton's boundary area as opposed to the reality that these homes are scheduled for build on land in North Hertfordshire. This also gives the impression that this new development effectively will become part of Luton, rather than remaining in North Hertfordshire.
* We object to the sheer scale of this proposed development which is out of all proportion to the area. We do not believe the building of so many homes in the Cockernhoe area, and at such a scale, can be justified when compared to the likely impact of proposed developments on other areas of North Herts. This small area of just some 200 homes and a population of 400 in what is protected Green Belt land will suffer the largest increase in percentage terms across the whole NHDC district - a 1050% increase in home building -and much higher than anywhere else in percentage terms. In real housing terms this proposed development will be much bigger than developments planned for much larger centres such as Stevenage, Royston and Hitchin.
* This new development accounts for 13.16 % of all the new housing totals for North Hertfordshire under this Local Plan.

4. Modification objection - Policy SP4 - Town centres, local centres and community shops - fundamental objection to the proposed building of Class A retail in among the housing development planned for east of Luton in parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

Modification: MM17 - page 10

Page: LP38

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 14 hearing sessions (ED56, ED77, ED117 and ED151)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states, inter alia, that amongst the new retail developments 'identified in this plan will be one East of Luton in the strategic site'.

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here, because whereas there is further information given as to the types of retail provision planned for the major centres located in North Herts, there is absolutely no information given as to the scale of type of retail provision planned for the site east of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3
* In fact in the full Local Plan draft it does state that the provision in the East of Luton plans call for a new local centre. This will include 250 square metres of Class A1 convenience retail provision and 850 sq.m of other A-class floor-space and other necessary social infrastructure (implies small shops, fast food delivery, newsagents for the 250 sq. m; what will be involved in the 850 sq.m is unsure.
* We contend that this scale of development, alongside the 2,100 homes planned is totally out of scale and proportion to the area.

5. Modification Objection - Policy SP4 - Town Centres, local centres and community shops - objection to the inherent threat posed by the stated future proposal for the new retail centre in among the housing development planned for the East of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM020 - pages 12-13

Page: LP39

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4; paragraph 4.44

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The statement at paragraph 4.44 states: "The growth of the District will require additional centres to be provided to serve the urban extensions at Baldock and on the edge of Luton. Once built these will become local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals within them will be assessed appropriately".

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here because the so-called growth of the District to the east of Luton is almost totally geared to meeting a proportion of Luton's unmet housing needs, not because of the needs of the current residents of the three villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green.
* Furthermore, we believe this local centre be the thin edge of the wedge. The plan states that once built the new centres will be "local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals for them will be assessed appropriately." This is vague and threatening in terms of even more development likely to occur in the future.

6. Modification Objection - Policy SP5 - Countryside and Green Belt - objection to the removal of Green Belt protection from the East of Luton area in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM023 - pages 13-14

Page: LP41

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP5

Inspector's proposed modifications: For consistency with national policy and legal compliance following Matter 15 hearing session (NHDC Matter 15 hearing statement ED55; ED152)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part of this policy states that NHDC' has conducted a comprehensive review of the Green Belt. Land has been removed from the Green belt to:

* Enable strategic development at the SP8 location - which is land East of Luton
* Have provided new Green Belt to cover, in general terms, the area bounded by the Metropolitan Green belt to the east, the Luton Green Belt to the west and the A505 Offley by-pass to the north;
* Will only permit development proposals in the Green Belt where they would not result in inappropriate development or where very special circumstances have been demonstrated'.
* It is our contention that in re -drafting this section to make it consistent with national policy, it has in fact exposed the weakness of the NHDC position in relation to the Green Belt in this area as explained below.
* It is our contention that NHDC is being economic with the truth here. What it fails to mention is that the comprehensive review of the Green Belt in the land to the East of Luton (parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) first carried out several years ago identified that against the fundamental purposes 1 and 3 the Green Belt surrounding Cockernhoe made a SIGNIFICANT contribution to Green Belt purposes whereas the areas of Green Belt to the north and south (which are not proposed for development) registered only as MODERATE.
* The review also measured against purpose 2 - which is only peripheral in this case -because, although this area is located in the gap between Luton and Hitchin, the Green Belt plays a limited role due to the distance between the towns. Similarly against purpose 4 - the Green Belt is also peripheral because there are no historic towns in the area. In both cases it was deemed that the Green Belt score should be lower.
* There surely is an argument that although the three villages are not a town, the Green Belt most certainly preserves the character and setting of these three villages - some of which have been in existence for hundreds of years. However the NHDC review states that as the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green are not towns they are 'not significant from a Green Belt perspective.'
* This is perverse because there would have been no way that these villages would have been able to expand into being small towns because of the Green Belt protection.
* The end result - and it was equally perverse - was that despite measures 1 and 3 being the most important and relevant criteria for this area of the Green Belt achieving a SIGNIFICANT score, the overall score across the four measures was downgraded to what is termed a MODEST contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to our circumstances, were not rated as highly.
* More recently, NHDC revised its Green Belt assessment in a Review published in September 2018. This was done - among other reasons they say - due to criticism of the methodologies previously used and new better practice, but it clearly was also due to representations made by respondents (including a barrister representing Save our Green Belt who cited case law). There was very little publicity about this revised assessment; simply a document placed online in amongst hundreds of others and hardly noticeable.
* So where we are now is that the area around Cockernhoe has been re-assessed as making an overall SIGNIFICANT contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt, but it has taken over 2.5 years for NHDC to come belatedly to this conclusion.
* However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because it is deemed a strategic site and these sites are fundamental to the Plan's strategy. Also, it is the only one available to NHDC in this area that allows them under the Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring authorities to contribute to the unmet needs of the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA), but we also contend that the Duty to Co-operate has been grossly over-stipulated and over-planned by NHDC to the detriment of the existing settlements and residents around the Cockernhoe area.
* We would challenge NHDC strongly on the conclusions it has reached concerning changes to the existing Green Belt designations.
* When arriving at these conclusions NHDC has very conveniently glossed over the extremely pertinent and important fact that our area is now recognised as making a Significant Overall contribution to the Green Belt - probably one of the highest Green Belt ratings that can we awarded - yet it has concluded that despite this accolade the development to the 'East of Luton' should proceed simply because, it believes, its requirement to meet its housing targets overrides all other considerations.
* To the cynic it might appear that this was merely a masterly piece of duplicitous, sleight of hand employed solely to suit NHDC's preferred outcome. We require NHDC to explain/justify the criteria it employed when considering and arriving at its, possibly pre-determined, conclusion.
* Furthermore, we believe that this plan to remove the Green Belt from the Cockernhoe area will not sit well with the statement by Brandon Lewis, the then Minister of State for Housing and Local Planning in a letter to MPs June 7, 2016, which said: "The Government has put in place the strongest protections for the Green Belt. The framework makes it clear that inappropriate development may be allowed only in exceptional circumstances through the Local Plan process and with the support of local people. We have been repeatedly clear that demand for housing alone will not change the Green Belt boundaries."
* It is our contention that that the loss of the green belt around Cockernhoe together with the engulfing of three villages does not represent 'exceptional circumstances' to justify removing the green belt. We would also contend that the scale of this proposed development is totally inappropriate to this rural area and it certainly does not have the support of local people.
* This is especially so since both Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council have stated that in all probability they could build more houses in their respective areas to meet Luton's unmet housing needs and at better, more convenient locations, closer to the urban areas of Luton and to the better transport links. At the very least this holds out a realistic prospect that NHDC will not have to build 2,100 homes east of Luton and should result in the immediate halting of the development plans for this area East of Luton.
* NHDC also states that it plans to replace the Green Belt to the East of Luton area with another new Green Belt to the immediate east of the proposed development to protect the countryside from the urban sprawl it proposes to create and to prevent coalescence with Hitchin and Stevenage. We would argue that if the proposed development is allowed to go ahead, creating - in effect - a greater Luton eastwards it will only be a matter of time before this new proposed Green Belt area becomes under threat from further Luton expansion. What trust would the residents in the villages in this area put in NHDC given their actions towards the residents of the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green?
* Fundamentally the removal of the Green Belt in the Cockernhoe area to facilitate this proposed huge housing/infrastructure development is not 'sound' and should be rejected.
7. Modification objection - Policy SP6 - Sustainable Transport - objection on the ground that the aspirations of the NHDC planners to create sustainable transport provision in the proposed development East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) is unlikely to be achieved in practice.

Modification: MM028 page 15

Page: LP43

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP6

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 16 Hearing Session (ED55, ED105, ED153).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The wording in SP6 is aspirational, talking of sustainable transport, cycle ways, walking etc. However, in relation to the proposed development east of Luton we would contend that, in large part, these aspirations are unlikely to be delivered for a variety of the following reasons:

* Road access will be from Luton Road (presumably much wider!!) and integrated into Luton's road network through Crawley Green Road, plus transport mitigation efforts to address impacts upon Luton. The NHDC Local Plan states that it believes the development can be accommodated 'without a significant adverse impact on the wider highway networks of Luton and Hertfordshire'.
* This doesn't tie in with the inadequacy of the roads to the east, plus the needs for mitigation methods to address impacts on Luton. The possible expansion of the secondary school to meet needs from the rural east will mean extra traffic (school runs) on the already inadequate single track roads.
* By contrast the Luton Local Plan indicates that the large East of Luton development will affect the local road network and there are likely to be affects in terms of increased traffic congestion and associated pollution. It also states in relation to the expansion of Luton Airport that this will create significant extra traffic to the airport, including an east-west direction through North Hertfordshire. This will add to the pressure on transport and infrastructure in the Luton Local Plan. Luton has also indicated that it foresees the need for a new road linking the proposed development to the A505. Where that might be built is not apparent at the moment.
* Therefore it does not appear that NHDC and Luton Borough Council are in agreement on this roads and traffic planning transport issue.
* With 2,100 new homes and probably an average of 2 cars per household we are looking at an extra 4000 cars in this area. If even a relatively small proportion of those cars make regular trips to the east (some people probably will work in Hitchin or Stevenage) the chances are they will use the single track roads down to Lilley Bottom and thence to Hitchin - roads already unsuitable and surprisingly busy at rush hours. Traffic westwards into Luton especially at rush hours will add further pressure to already busy access roads.
* The NHDC belief that the new development will enable sustainable transport journeys to be made to key services and locations is unlikely to be realised to a large extent in practice. If people in the new development work in the centre of Luton or commute into London, then the likelihood is cars will be used on the already busy roads, especially in rush hours. CAG Consultants said: 'the site is a long distance from the Luton town centre and the topography is undulating which would be a discouragement to walking or cycling into the town. The site is over 3km from Luton station so residents are likely to use private vehicles to commute and access services in Luton. The local road network into North Hertfordshire is sub-standard and development could reduce accessibility for existing residents".
* There seems to be no provision in the Local Plan to cater for the existing residents of the Cockernhoe area who wish to travel eastwards towards Hitchin /Stevenage, given that the same CAG consultants also stated that this development 'could reduce accessibility for existing residents due to the sub-standard of the existing roads into North Hertfordshire?
* Fundamentally we contend that the sustainable transport aspirations in the NHDC Local Plan in relation to the proposed development east of Luton is unlikely to be deliverable in reality and therefore should be regarded as not 'sound'.

8. Modification objection - Policy SP8 Housing - objection on the grounds that it is not at all certain that Luton has an unmet housing need of 1,950 homes that needs to be provided for by the proposed development to the East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3).

Modification: MM035 - Page 19

Page: LP pages 47-48

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP8
Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure the Plan is positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy following Matter 2,3,4,8,10 and 12 hearing sessions and consequential to MM010 (ED53, ED54, ED60, ED83, ED139, ED140, ED144, ED149).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Section (b) of this policy states that HNDC will : ' provide additional land within the Luton HMA for a further 1950 net new homes as a contribution towards the unmet needs arising from Luton'.

* It is our contention that the unmet housing need from Luton can better be achieved through additional house building within the Luton town boundaries, or from within the Central Bedfordshire District Council land adjoining Luton to the north and west. Both of these two authorities have indicated that they can probably provide more housing to meet Luton's unmet needs and in better locations to the urban area and transport links, thus cancelling out the requirement for homes needed from NHDC land.
* Luton Borough Council has over-delivered on housing supply in the past 10 years and its plans to build 8,500 homes within its town boundaries to meet part of its own unmet housing needs are almost exclusively on brownfield sites. Nonetheless Luton BC has indicated that it is possible that additional houses could be built on some of these sites and there are other brownfield sites that could also be used for housing. The projected re-siting of Luton Town Football Club from Kenilworth Road to the Power Court site in the next few years will further free up another big space for more housing - none of which in included in Luton BC's housing projections at the moment, other than an aspirational indication of housing possibilities on the Kenilworth Road site towards the end of the 2031 period.
* Central Bedfordshire has identified 669 sites for which planning permission for new housing has not yet been given. Of these 25 sites are within easy distance of the Luton conurbation and totals over 4,000 hectares (by comparison the East of Luton site totals 116.7 hectares) Quite a few of these sites are not in the Green Belt.
* NHDC's generous offer of 1,950 homes in an area of unspoilt Green Belt countryside is perverse when it is obvious that there is much more land available in Central Bedfordshire, as well as the prospect that Luton BC could build more homes than its target . Furthermore, the firm offer from NHDC is ridiculous when it is quite clear that Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council are not in agreement as to how many homes they can each build and where they should be built.
* NHDC has been far too eager to offer this land for Luton's unmet housing needs to the detriment of the Green Belt and the existing villages and residents around Cockernhoe. It would have been far better for NHDC to have made a conditional offer of the possibility of building homes in the Cockernhoe area, although Green Belt considerations would have to weigh heavily, to meet some of Luton's unmet housing needs, once the two authorities of LBC and CBC resolved their disagreements about how many homes they can build and where they should be built?

9) Modification objection - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2 and EL3 - East of Luton - objections as already expressed.
Modification: MM083 - Page 43
Page: LP71
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP19

Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure Plan is positively prepared, justified and effective (LP3, MOU5, NHDC Matter 10 statement (ED54, ED83, ED144)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

There are two arguments which have been used above but which are still applicable to this Policy LP71, namely:

* point (d) in the policy regarding transport (see Modification objection (7) above);
* point (f) in the policy related to Luton's unmet housing needs and the contribution from within North Herts District Council of 1,950 homes from this proposed site (see Modification objection (8) above.

10) Modification objection - Cockernhoe and East of Luton

Modification: MM221 - Page 112
Page: LP150
Policy/Paragraph: Paragraph 13.66
Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 5 Hearing Session.

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The final two sentences of the paragraph read: 'The boundary has been drawn so as to include both the village of Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green and the adjoining expansion of Luton. Outside this boundary the rest of the Cockernhoe ward is classed as Green Belt.'
* For the avoidance of doubt it should be accurately noted that the proposed expansion is not adjoining from Luton; but rather is adjoining towards Luton.

11. Modification objection - Reference to the Luton HMA
Modification: MM410 - Page 164
Page: LP224
Policy/Paragraph: 14.39
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness
THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION
This section dealing with the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA) explains how the authorities in this HMA - namely Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire District Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have worked together and jointly commissioned and subsequently agreed a Growth Options Study which demonstrates sufficient potential capacity within the Luton HMA to accommodate Luton's unmet housing needs.
* What this section does not say was that this Growth Options Study identified two small parcels of land that are not geographically in the Luton or Central Bedfordshire authorities areas - namely the land to the East of Luton (i.e. Cockernhoe land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) and a bigger piece of land within Aylesbury Vale DC (AVDC) at Edlesborough. It has 3,100 people representing barely 1% of the total population of the Luton HMA (over 322,000). Despite this small number it is still approximately twice the size/contribution of the NHDC land that forms part of the Luton HMA and ten times the size of the even smaller parcel of land around Cockernhoe that is slated for development.
* In reality both the NHDC and AVDC contributions to the Luton HMA are statistically insignificant.
* Despite the fact that this Edlesborough land is not within the Green Belt and could accommodate 1,200 homes with potentiality for almost 4,500, the four authorities between them saw fit to reject development on this land, despite the fact that on many criteria this parcel of land scored as well, if not better, than the proposed development East of Luton.
* It is our contention that the inclusion of the land east of Luton in with the Luton HMA has resulted is this small parcel and the three villages with its population of circa 500 (around 0.1% of the Luton HMA population) being earmarked to provide 1,950 homes out of the total of 9300 that is the unmet housing need of Luton - that is 21% of the total build. Totally out of all proportion.
* It is also our contention that NHDC's firm offer of housing from around Cockernhoe has simply allowed both LBC and CBC to assume that they don't have to build as many homes in their own geographic areas, thus making life easier for them, rather than forcing them to make bigger efforts to solve their own housing problems?
* It is also our contention that AVDC - which doesn't even include the fact that a parcel of its land is part of the Luton HMA in its Local Plan or in the Statement of Common Ground signed with NHDC - has benefited from NHDC's capitulation in not defending its own land parcel strongly enough. NHDC has been too keen to be seen to be complying with the Duty to Co-operate; a stance that is not emulated by other authorities.

12. Examination of Evidence Document ED140 - Matter 4 The Housing Strategy: Supply of land for housing - dated 1 April 2017
Appendix 3 - Revised North Herts Housing Trajectory
THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT
This document has been included in those among the Evidence Documents (ED137-ED158) on which the Inspector has requested any representations.
Appendix 3 of this document provides a table showing the planned building of homes on the three sites to the east of Luton (EL1/EL2 and EL3). This chart shows the following delivery profile for the building of the 2,100 homes proposed:

2021 140 homes 140 homes
2022-2027 190 homes per year = 1140 homes
2028-2031 205 homes per year = 820 homes
Total delivery 2100 homes over 11 years

* However, these figures and delivery profile do not agree with the more recent Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) - ED28 - signed in November 2017 between NHDC, Bloor Homes and The Crown Estate.
* This SOCG paints a rather different picture, showing the following:

2021 80 homes 80 homes
2022-2027 130 homes per year = 780 homes
2028-2031 135 homes per year = 540 homes
Total delivery 1400 homes

* There is a shortfall of 700 homes during the Plan period.
* Ominously, the SOCG states that after 2031 the build of homes will continue at the rate of 135 homes per year until the site is completed. This is a further 5 years, meaning that according to this SOCG, construction of the 2,100 homes on this proposed development will last a total of 16 years until 2035!!
* We contend that there is at the very least a significant discrepancy between these two papers - one of which the Inspector has required to be submitted for Evidence and consultation and the other (the SOCG), which is of a more recent date, and which to be found buried amongst the evidence documents.
* This is a serious discrepancy which goes to the very heart of the proposal by NHDC to build these homes to the east of Luton. We now find that instead of construction earmarked to be over the life of the Local Plan - 11 years - which is bad enough for the residents of the villages around Cockernhoe - the actual truth of the matter, hidden away in the SOCG, is that a further five years of misery are to endured by the local population to make 16 years of construction in the area - let alone the construction of the infrastructure that is also planned (2 schools, roads, A class retails, possibly a police base etc.).
* An enquiry surely needs to be held to determine whether officials/elected representatives of NHDC are complicit in this - what seems to be - deception. In the meantime, this is further evidence that the plans for proposed housing East of Luton should be scrapped.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7203

Received: 27/02/2019

Respondent: Dr Helen Lumley

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

As a resident of Graveley village I wish to make representations regarding maintaining the character and special history of our village in the light of the proposed building on site NS1. My comments refer to the section of the proposed Local Plan starting on page 73 entitled Policy SP16 site NS1 North of Stevenage, point G, and paragraph 4.197 in this section.

Graveley has a long history, being mentioned in the Doomsday book, and has many ancient listed buildings of historic significance, and a church dating back to the 12th century. Residents are rightly proud of Graveley's agricultural and transport history - it was a coaching stop on the Great North Road, and it's beautiful and historic village pond. It is essential that any building plans for NS1 ensure that the historic character of our village is maintained and it is essential that coalescence with Stevenage does not occur. There needs to be green space and distance between our village and any new building.

My final point is that the Settlement Boundary which has been drawn up for Graveley village EXCLUDES many important historic sites in the village, such our ancient church, listed buildings, and houses that are over 150 years old. This 'Settlement Boundary' therefore does not give an accurate representation of the edge of Graveley village. It is essential that coalescence with Stevenage is NOT assessed in reference to this Settlement Boundary but is assessed in reference to our Conservation Area. I hope that by coming up with a smaller Settlement Boundary area, NHDC will NOT then use this unrepresentative 'Boundary' to claim that coalescence with Stevenage is not happening with the NS1 building.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7211

Received: 02/03/2019

Respondent: Ms Clementine Alicia Williams

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7225

Received: 03/03/2019

Respondent: Mr James Williams

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7278

Received: 27/03/2019

Respondent: Save Rural Codicote

Agent: Hutchinsons

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7280

Received: 27/03/2019

Respondent: Knebworth Parish Council

Agent: Mr Jed Griffiths

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See attached

Comment

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7281

Received: 21/03/2019

Respondent: Pelham Structures Ltd

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7287

Received: 26/02/2019

Respondent: Mr and Mr Matt and Alexander Tooley

Number of people: 2

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

1) Subject: Modification Objection - Hundreds of Representors Lost from the Examination Process.
Modification: MM001 - p.0
Page LP 1: 0
Policy/Paragraph: About this consultation
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Delete
Inspector's Reason/source: For INSERTED: effectiveness; Consultation has occurred

THIS REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION:
Our community has identified between 99 - 195 people who made their objection/ representations at Regulation 19, but which those same Objection Statements, the Council failed to publish.
If you find this respondent's name not on the list of Representors for the Examination, then it is possible this writer is amongst those respondents wrongly excluded from participation after Regulation 19. This is something you will need to investigate thoroughly for yourself.
As a result these participants (residents of East Luton and North Hertfordshire) have been left out of all communications from the Council thereafter.
Furthermore the Inspector also failed to inform these representors of their right to participate at Regulation 22.
The basis for modification MM001 therefore cannot apply so this Paragraph should not be removed.
The reason it should not be removed is because Consultation has not yet occurred for a very large number of representors who did make their Objections known to the Council at Regulation 19.
This Consultation must now be halted and there must be a detailed investigation conducted to establish exactly who was left out of the Examination Procedures at Regulation 22, why and who was responsible for excluding them.
Having been entirely left out of the Examination Consultation and participation process at Regulation 22, they were also denied all opportunity to put in any of their further "Matter Statements" at the start of this Examination. Consequentially they have also been left out of this current Modification Consultation.
This shocking event has occurred and leaves a heavy pressing question mark hanging over the already shadowy legitimacy of North Herts District Council's Local Plan and the hidden plans of its architects.
The Consultation cannot continue without all representors who made their views known in writing at Regulation 19. These representors must be afforded their due rights for fair Consultation at all stages beyond Regulation 19, under the Town and Country Planning Act and other Laws.
For this reason it is our urgent demand to the Inspector, and Secretary of State, and our MPs - that this Consultation be immediately suspended; until the exact numbers left out of this Consultation can be clearly identified and established. Also that the person/s responsible for this unacceptable breach be clearly identified. And their motives for removing such a huge number of representors be brought to the forefront for examination.
We are trying to establish the exact number of representors who were left out of the Consultation process, but the current number is running at, at least 74; with numerous additional people surfacing. But this is your job not ours' to investigate what has gone wrong. And you will need time to do that. So this Consultation must be suspended.
All members of the Public and stakeholders must be allowed by Law to participate in every stage of a Public Consultation without discrimination. Any Inspector judging the soundness of a Plan's preparation would know that it is simply not sound preparation by anyone's standards - to leave any, let alone such a huge number of Objectors out!

2) Modification objection - Policy SP1 - Sustainable development in North Hertfordshire - failure to protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1, EL2 and EL3)
Modification: MM008 - page 5 Parts (ii) and (iv)
Page LP 31
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP1 (c) (ii) and (iv)
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Revised
Inspector's reason/source: For effectiveness as proposed in LP3

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part (iv) states that this Plan 'will protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment including biodiversity, important landscapes, heritage assets and green infrastructure'.
This statement does not accord with the facts specifically below:
This stated policy does not meet the following three key objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in so far as it relates to the land parcel EL1/EL2 and EL3.
* ENV 1: Direct development towards the most sustainable locations which seek to maintain the existing settlement pattern. Arguably this objective cannot be said to be met by a development which totally destroys the existing settlement pattern).
* ENV 2: Protect and enhance the historic character of North Hertfordshire's towns, villages, hamlets and landscape by promoting good design that creates a distinctive sense of place. This objective cannot possibly be said to be met through a development that destroys and degrades the historic character of the three villages, and destroys the Green Belt landscape. The distinctive sense of place currently enjoyed by the three villages will be utterly destroyed by the swathe of new housing and other buildings that will surround and engulf the villages, no matter how good the design of the new development might be.
* ENV 3: Protect, maintain and enhance the District's historic and natural environment, its cultural assets and network of open spaces, urban and rural landscapes. The rural landscape to the west of the three villages will be lost for ever, as will be the network of open spaces.

In addition:

* The wildlife in this area will be displaced. We have healthy populations of deer, bats, owls, red kites and woodpeckers, to name but a few. So-called wildlife corridors are no substitute.
* The Chiltern Way national path runs from the south right through Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green thence to the north east - what impact will these new developments have on this prestige footpath route which is well used by walkers?
* This proposed development will not help to achieve policy ECON6 in the National Planning Policy Framework economic objectives which is to "Sustain the vitality of our villages and the rural economy in supporting rural diversification, whilst ensuring development is of an appropriate scale and character". It is obvious there
is no way this objective can be said to be met. Grade 3 agricultural land will be lost to make way for the new homes, the vitality and loss of identity of the three blighted villages will never be regained and the development on such a huge scale can never be described as being of an appropriate scale and character.

Part (ii) states that (inter alia): "provide opportunities for health lifestyle choices."

*If this development is allowed to go ahead in EL1. EL2 and EL3 it will have a detrimental effect on greenspace for people already living in the new area. Luton already has a very poor record in this regard. The Green Infrastructure Plan for Luton mentions the strategic role and importance of green space across the borough and its interrelationship with green space in neighbouring authorities to make publicly accessible open space assets available to all Luton residents as the population grows. Already in Luton, the town fails in 7 out of 10 categories to meet the current greenspace requirements - to the tune of 352 hectares. The loss of 116 hectares from the Cockernhoe Green Belt to housing will simply magnify that problem - not improve the situation - and Luton people already living In Wigmore will suffer from the loss of the greenspace.

Combined together these elements of Policy SP1 cannot therefore be said to be 'sound'.

3) Modification objection - Policy SP2 - Settlement Hierarchy and Spatial Distribution - fundamental objection to the plans for 2,100 homes to the East of Luton in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.
Modification: MM010 - page 6
Page LP 32
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP2
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness to better explain the spatial strategy of the Plan following Matter 2 Hearing Session (ED53; ED138)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states that "approximately 80% of the District's housing settlement and the substantial majority of new employment, retail and other development will be located within the adjusted settlement boundaries of the following towns".
It then goes on to include Luton with the proposed 2,100 homes.
* The clear impression given by this statement is that these new homes are to be located within Luton's boundary area as opposed to the reality that these homes are scheduled for build on land in North Hertfordshire. This also gives the impression that this new development effectively will become part of Luton, rather than remaining in North Hertfordshire.
* We object to the sheer scale of this proposed development which is out of all proportion to the area. We do not believe the building of so many homes in the Cockernhoe area, and at such a scale, can be justified when compared to the likely impact of proposed developments on other areas of North Herts. This small area of just some 200 homes and a population of 400 in what is protected Green Belt land will suffer the largest increase in percentage terms across the whole NHDC district - a 1050% increase in home building -and much higher than anywhere else in percentage terms. In real housing terms this proposed development will be much bigger than developments planned for much larger centres such as Stevenage, Royston and Hitchin.

* This new development accounts for 13.16 % of all the new housing totals for North Hertfordshire under this Local Plan.

4) Modification objection - Policy SP4 - Town centres, local centres and community shops - fundamental objection to the proposed building of Class A retail in among the housing development planned for east of Luton in parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

Modification: MM17 - page 10

Page: LP38

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 14 hearing sessions (ED56, ED77, ED117 and ED151)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states, inter alia, that amongst the new retail developments 'identified in this plan will be one East of Luton in the strategic site'.

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here, because whereas there is further information given as to the types of retail provision planned for the major centres located in North Herts, there is absolutely no information given as to the scale of type of retail provision planned for the site east of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

* In fact in the full Local Plan draft it does state that the provision in the East of Luton plans call for a new local centre. This will include 250 square metres of Class A1 convenience retail provision and 850 sq.m of other A-class floor-space and other necessary social infrastructure (implies small shops, fast food delivery, newsagents for the 250 sq. m; what will be involved in the 850 sq.m is unsure.

* We contend that this scale of development, alongside the 2,100 homes planned is totally out of scale and proportion to the area.

5) Modification Objection - Policy SP4 - Town Centres, local centres and community shops - objection to the inherent threat posed by the stated future proposal for the new retail centre in among the housing development planned for the East of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM020 - pages 12-13

Page: LP39

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4; paragraph 4.44

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The statement at paragraph 4.44 states: "The growth of the District will require additional centres to be provided to serve the urban extensions at Baldock and on the edge of Luton. Once built these will become local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals within them will be assessed appropriately".

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here because the so-called growth of the District to the east of Luton is almost totally geared to meeting a proportion of Luton's unmet housing needs, not because of the needs of the current residents of the three villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green.

* Furthermore, we believe this local centre be the thin edge of the wedge. The plan states that once built the new centres will be "local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals for them will be assessed appropriately." This is vague and threatening in terms of even more development likely to occur in the future.

6) Modification Objection - Policy SP5 - Countryside and Green Belt - objection to the removal of Green Belt protection from the East of Luton area in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM023 - pages 13-14

Page: LP41

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP5

Inspector's proposed modifications: For consistency with national policy and legal compliance following Matter 15 hearing session (NHDC Matter 15 hearing statement ED55; ED152)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part of this policy states that NHDC' has conducted a comprehensive review of the Green Belt. Land has been removed from the Green belt to:

- Enable strategic development at the SP8 location - which is land East of Luton
- Have provided new Green Belt to cover, in general terms, the area bounded by the Metropolitan Green belt to the east, the Luton Green Belt to the west and the A505 Offley by-pass to the north;
- Will only permit development proposals in the Green Belt where they would not result in inappropriate development or where very special circumstances have been demonstrated'.

* It is our contention that in re -drafting this section to make it consistent with national policy, it has in fact exposed the weakness of the NHDC position in relation to the Green Belt in this area as explained below.

* It is our contention that NHDC is being economic with the truth here. What it fails to mention is that the comprehensive review of the Green Belt in the land to the East of Luton (parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) first carried out several years ago identified that against the fundamental purposes 1 and 3 the Green Belt surrounding Cockernhoe made a SIGNIFICANT contribution to Green Belt purposes whereas the areas of Green Belt to the north and south (which are not proposed for development) registered only as MODERATE.

* The review also measured against purpose 2 - which is only peripheral in this case -because, although this area is located in the gap between Luton and Hitchin, the Green Belt plays a limited role due to the distance between the towns. Similarly against purpose 4 - the Green Belt is also peripheral because there are no historic towns in the area. In both cases it was deemed that the Green Belt score should be lower.

* There surely is an argument that although the three villages are not a town, the Green Belt most certainly preserves the character and setting of these three villages - some of which have been in existence for hundreds of years. However the NHDC review states that as the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green are not towns they are 'not significant from a Green Belt perspective.'

* This is perverse because there would have been no way that these villages would have been able to expand into being small towns because of the Green Belt protection.

* The end result - and it was equally perverse - was that despite measures 1 and 3 being the most important and relevant criteria for this area of the Green Belt achieving a SIGNIFICANT score, the overall score across the four measures was downgraded to what is termed a MODEST contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to our circumstances, were not rated as highly.

* More recently, NHDC revised its Green Belt assessment in a Review published in September 2018. This was done - among other reasons they say - due to criticism of the methodologies previously used and new better practice, but it clearly was also due to representations made by respondents (including a barrister representing Save our Green Belt who cited case law). There was very little publicity about this revised assessment; simply a document placed online in amongst hundreds of others and hardly noticeable.

* So where we are now is that the area around Cockernhoe has been re-assessed as making an overall SIGNIFICANT contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt, but it has taken over 2.5 years for NHDC to come belatedly to this conclusion.

* However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because it is deemed a strategic site and these sites are fundamental to the Plan's strategy. Also, it is the only one available to NHDC in this area that allows them under the Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring authorities to contribute to the unmet needs of the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA), but we also contend that the Duty to Co-operate has been grossly over-stipulated and over-planned by NHDC to the detriment of the existing settlements and residents around the Cockernhoe area.

* We would challenge NHDC strongly on the conclusions it has reached concerning changes to the existing Green Belt designations.

* When arriving at these conclusions NHDC has very conveniently glossed over the extremely pertinent and important fact that our area is now recognised as making a Significant Overall contribution to the Green Belt - probably one of the highest Green Belt ratings that can we awarded - yet it has concluded that despite this accolade the development to the 'East of Luton' should proceed simply because, it believes, its requirement to meet its housing targets overrides all other considerations.

* To the cynic it might appear that this was merely a masterly piece of duplicitous, sleight of hand employed solely to suit NHDC's preferred outcome. We require NHDC to explain/justify the criteria it employed when considering and arriving at its, possibly pre-determined, conclusion.

* Furthermore, we believe that this plan to remove the Green Belt from the Cockernhoe area will not sit well with the statement by Brandon Lewis, the then Minister of State for Housing and Local Planning in a letter to MPs June 7, 2016, which said: "The Government has put in place the strongest protections for the Green Belt. The framework makes it clear that inappropriate development may be allowed only in exceptional circumstances through the Local Plan process and with the support of local people. We have been repeatedly clear that demand for housing alone will not change the Green Belt boundaries."

* It is our contention that that the loss of the green belt around Cockernhoe together with the engulfing of three villages does not represent 'exceptional circumstances' to justify removing the green belt. We would also contend that the scale of this proposed development is totally inappropriate to this rural area and it certainly does not have the support of local people.

* This is especially so since both Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council have stated that in all probability they could build more houses in their respective areas to meet Luton's unmet housing needs and at better, more convenient locations, closer to the urban areas of Luton and to the better transport links. At the very least this holds out a realistic prospect that NHDC will not have to build 2,100 homes east of Luton and should result in the immediate halting of the development plans for this area East of Luton.

* NHDC also states that it plans to replace the Green Belt to the East of Luton area with another new Green Belt to the immediate east of the proposed development to protect the countryside from the urban sprawl it proposes to create and to prevent coalescence with Hitchin and Stevenage. We would argue that if the proposed development is allowed to go ahead, creating - in effect - a greater Luton eastwards it will only be a matter of time before this new proposed Green Belt area becomes under threat from further Luton expansion. What trust would the residents in the villages in this area put in NHDC given their actions towards the residents of the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green?

* Fundamentally the removal of the Green Belt in the Cockernhoe area to facilitate this proposed huge housing/infrastructure development is not 'sound' and should be rejected.

7) Modification objection - Policy SP6 - Sustainable Transport - objection on the ground that the aspirations of the NHDC planners to create sustainable transport provision in the proposed development East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) is unlikely to be achieved in practice.

Modification: MM028 page 15

Page: LP43

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP6

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 16 Hearing Session (ED55, ED105, ED153).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The wording in SP6 is aspirational, talking of sustainable transport, cycle ways, walking etc. However, in relation to the proposed development east of Luton we would contend that, in large part, these aspirations are unlikely to be delivered for a variety of the following reasons:

* Road access will be from Luton Road (presumably much wider!!) and integrated into Luton's road network through Crawley Green Road, plus transport mitigation efforts to address impacts upon Luton. The NHDC Local Plan states that it believes the development can be accommodated 'without a significant adverse impact on the wider highway networks of Luton and Hertfordshire'.

* This doesn't tie in with the inadequacy of the roads to the east, plus the needs for mitigation methods to address impacts on Luton. The possible expansion of the secondary school to meet needs from the rural east will mean extra traffic (school runs) on the already inadequate single track roads.

* By contrast the Luton Local Plan indicates that the large East of Luton development will affect the local road network and there are likely to be affects in terms of increased traffic congestion and associated pollution. It also states in relation to the expansion of Luton Airport that this will create significant extra traffic to the airport, including an east-west direction through North Hertfordshire. This will add to the pressure on transport and infrastructure in the Luton Local Plan. Luton has also indicated that it foresees the need for a new road linking the proposed development to the A505. Where that might be built is not apparent at the moment.

* Therefore it does not appear that NHDC and Luton Borough Council are in agreement on this roads and traffic planning transport issue.

* With 2,100 new homes and probably an average of 2 cars per household we are looking at an extra 4000 cars in this area. If even a relatively small proportion of those cars make regular trips to the east (some people probably will work in Hitchin or Stevenage) the chances are they will use the single track roads down to Lilley Bottom and thence to Hitchin - roads already unsuitable and surprisingly busy at rush hours. Traffic westwards into Luton especially at rush hours will add further pressure to already busy access roads.

* The NHDC belief that the new development will enable sustainable transport journeys to be made to key services and locations is unlikely to be realised to a large extent in practice. If people in the new development work in the centre of Luton or commute into London, then the likelihood is cars will be used on the already busy roads, especially in rush hours. CAG Consultants said: 'the site is a long distance from the Luton town centre and the topography is undulating which would be a discouragement to walking or cycling into the town. The site is over 3km from Luton station so residents are likely to use private vehicles to commute and access services in Luton. The local road network into North Hertfordshire is sub-standard and development could reduce accessibility for existing residents".

* There seems to be no provision in the Local Plan to cater for the existing residents of the Cockernhoe area who wish to travel eastwards towards Hitchin /Stevenage, given that the same CAG consultants also stated that this development 'could reduce accessibility for existing residents due to the sub-standard of the existing roads into North Hertfordshire?

* Fundamentally we contend that the sustainable transport aspirations in the NHDC Local Plan in relation to the proposed development east of Luton is unlikely to be deliverable in reality and therefore should be regarded as not 'sound'.

8) Modification objection - Policy SP8 Housing - objection on the grounds that it is not at all certain that Luton has an unmet housing need of 1,950 homes that needs to be provided for by the proposed development to the East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3).

Modification: MM035 - Page 19

Page: LP pages 47-48

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP8
Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure the Plan is positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy following Matter 2,3,4,8,10 and 12 hearing sessions and consequential to MM010 (ED53, ED54, ED60, ED83, ED139, ED140, ED144, ED149).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Section (b) of this policy states that HNDC will : ' provide additional land within the Luton HMA for a further 1950 net new homes as a contribution towards the unmet needs arising from Luton'.

* It is our contention that the unmet housing need from Luton can better be achieved through additional house building within the Luton town boundaries, or from within the Central Bedfordshire District Council land adjoining Luton to the north and west. Both of these two authorities have indicated that they can probably provide more housing to meet Luton's unmet needs and in better locations to the urban area and transport links, thus cancelling out the requirement for homes needed from NHDC land.
* Luton Borough Council has over-delivered on housing supply in the past 10 years and its plans to build 8,500 homes within its town boundaries to meet part of its own unmet housing needs are almost exclusively on brownfield sites. Nonetheless Luton BC has indicated that it is possible that additional houses could be built on some of these sites and there are other brownfield sites that could also be used for housing. The projected re-siting of Luton Town Football Club from Kenilworth Road to the Power Court site in the next few years will further free up another big space for more housing - none of which in included in Luton BC's housing projections at the moment, other than an aspirational indication of housing possibilities on the Kenilworth Road site towards the end of the 2031 period.
* Central Bedfordshire has identified 669 sites for which planning permission for new housing has not yet been given. Of these 25 sites are within easy distance of the Luton conurbation and totals over 4,000 hectares (by comparison the East of Luton site totals 116.7 hectares) Quite a few of these sites are not in the Green Belt.
* NHDC's generous offer of 1,950 homes in an area of unspoilt Green Belt countryside is perverse when it is obvious that there is much more land available in Central Bedfordshire, as well as the prospect that Luton BC could build more homes than its target . Furthermore, the firm offer from NHDC is ridiculous when it is quite clear that Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council are not in agreement as to how many homes they can each build and where they should be built.
* NHDC has been far too eager to offer this land for Luton's unmet housing needs to the detriment of the Green Belt and the existing villages and residents around Cockernhoe. It would have been far better for NHDC to have made a conditional offer of the possibility of building homes in the Cockernhoe area, although Green Belt considerations would have to weigh heavily, to meet some of Luton's unmet housing needs, once the two authorities of LBC and CBC resolved their disagreements about how many homes they can build and where they should be built?

9) Modification objection - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2 and EL3 - East of Luton - objections as already expressed.

Modification: MM083 - Page 43

Page: LP71

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP19

Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure Plan is positively prepared, justified and effective (LP3, MOU5, NHDC Matter 10 statement (ED54, ED83, ED144)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

There are two arguments which have been used above but which are still applicable to this Policy LP71, namely:

* point (d) in the policy regarding transport (see Modification objection (7) above);
* point (f) in the policy related to Luton's unmet housing needs and the contribution from within North Herts District Council of 1,950 homes from this proposed site (see Modification objection (8) above.

10) Modification objection - Cockernhoe and East of Luton

Modification: MM221 - Page 112

Page: LP150

Policy/Paragraph: Paragraph 13.66

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 5 Hearing
Session.

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The final two sentences of the paragraph read: 'The boundary has been drawn so as to include both the village of Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green and the adjoining expansion of Luton. Outside this boundary the rest of the Cockernhoe ward is classed as Green Belt.'

* For the avoidance of doubt it should be accurately noted that the proposed expansion is not adjoining from Luton; but rather is adjoining towards Luton.

11) Modification objection - Reference to the Luton HMA

Modification: MM410 - Page 164
Page: LP224
Policy/Paragraph: 14.39
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness
THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This section dealing with the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA) explains how the authorities in this HMA - namely Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire District Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have worked together and jointly commissioned and subsequently agreed a Growth Options Study which demonstrates sufficient potential capacity within the Luton HMA to accommodate Luton's unmet housing needs.
* What this section does not say was that this Growth Options Study identified two small parcels of land that are not geographically in the Luton or Central Bedfordshire authorities areas - namely the land to the East of Luton (i.e. Cockernhoe land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) and a bigger piece of land within Aylesbury Vale DC (AVDC) at Edlesborough. It has 3,100 people representing barely 1% of the total population of the Luton HMA (over 322,000). Despite this small number it is still approximately twice the size/contribution of the NHDC land that forms part of the Luton HMA and ten times the size of the even smaller parcel of land around Cockernhoe that is slated for development.
* In reality both the NHDC and AVDC contributions to the Luton HMA are statistically insignificant.
* Despite the fact that this Edlesborough land is not within the Green Belt and could accommodate 1,200 homes with potentiality for almost 4,500, the four authorities between them saw fit to reject development on this land, despite the fact that on many criteria this parcel of land scored as well, if not better, than the proposed development East of Luton.
* It is our contention that the inclusion of the land east of Luton in with the Luton HMA has resulted is this small parcel and the three villages with its population of circa 500 (around 0.1% of the Luton HMA population) being earmarked to provide 1,950 homes out of the total of 9300 that is the unmet housing need of Luton - that is 21% of the total build. Totally out of all proportion.
* It is also our contention that NHDC's firm offer of housing from around Cockernhoe has simply allowed both LBC and CBC to assume that they don't have to build as many homes in their own geographic areas, thus making life easier for them, rather than forcing them to make bigger efforts to solve their own housing problems?
* It is also our contention that AVDC - which doesn't even include the fact that a parcel of its land is part of the Luton HMA in its Local Plan or in the Statement of Common Ground signed with NHDC - has benefited from NHDC's capitulation in not defending its own land parcel strongly enough. NHDC has been too keen to be seen to be complying with the Duty to Co-operate; a stance that is not emulated by other authorities.

12) Examination of Evidence Document ED140 - Matter 4 The Housing Strategy: Supply of land for housing - dated 1 April 2017
Appendix 3 - Revised North Herts Housing Trajectory

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT
This document has been included in those among the Evidence Documents (ED137-ED158) on which the Inspector has requested any representations.
Appendix 3 of this document provides a table showing the planned building of homes on the three sites to the east of Luton (EL1/EL2 and EL3). This chart shows the following delivery profile for the building of the 2,100 homes proposed:

2021 140 homes 140 homes
2022-2027 190 homes per year = 1140 homes
2028-2031 205 homes per year = 820 homes
Total delivery 2100 homes over 11 years

* However, these figures and delivery profile do not agree with the more recent Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) - ED28 - signed in November 2017 between NHDC, Bloor Homes and The Crown Estate.
* This SOCG paints a rather different picture, showing the following:

2021 80 homes 80 homes
2022-2027 130 homes per year = 780 homes
2028-2031 135 homes per year = 540 homes
Total delivery 1400 homes

* There is a shortfall of 700 homes during the Plan period.
* Ominously, the SOCG states that after 2031 the build of homes will continue at the rate of 135 homes per year until the site is completed. This is a further 5 years, meaning that according to this SOCG, construction of the 2,100 homes on this proposed development will last a total of 16 years until 2035!!
* We contend that there is at the very least a significant discrepancy between these two papers - one of which the Inspector has required to be submitted for Evidence and consultation and the other (the SOCG), which is of a more recent date, and which to be found buried amongst the evidence documents.
* This is a serious discrepancy which goes to the very heart of the proposal by NHDC to build these homes to the east of Luton. We now find that instead of construction earmarked to be over the life of the Local Plan - 11 years - which is bad enough for the residents of the villages around Cockernhoe - the actual truth of the matter, hidden away in the SOCG, is that a further five years of misery are to endured by the local population to make 16 years of construction in the area - let alone the construction of the infrastructure that is also planned (2 schools, roads, A class retails, possibly a police base etc.).
An enquiry surely needs to be held to determine whether officials/elected representatives of NHDC are complicit in this - what seems to be - deception. In the meantime, this is further evidence that the plans for proposed housing East of Luton should be scrapped.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7328

Received: 05/04/2019

Respondent: Mr Tony M Gatt

Representation:

Objection to the classification of Graveley as a class 'A' village based on important historical context, and to the planned village boundary which will alter the integrity and environment of the village.

Full text:

Graveley has been categorised as a 'A' village to which i object strongly, as it ignores the historical significance of the village to the green belt and its established identity over centuries. The proposed settlement boundary lines and 'A' classification if enacted will enable developers to irrevocably alter the environmental, and historical distinct boundary of the village, and in effect the village will become absorbed by the North of Stevenage proposed development leading to the destruction of this historical village. Also as I understand the plan the drawing of the settlement boundary close to the south of the George & Dragon public house means that a false gap between the two boundaries, which will enable the NS1 development to encroach to the first house in Graveley High Street creating no division between Graveley and NS1. This is totally unacceptable and frankly an underhand action by NHDC. In addition the B197 is already severely impacted by increased traffic flow toward Stevenage principally by-passing the A1M and further development will add to the environmental impact on the existing village.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7342

Received: 27/02/2019

Respondent: Miss Ashleigh Lawrence

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

1) Subject: Modification Objection - Hundreds of Representors Lost from the Examination Process.
Modification: MM001 - p.0
Page LP 1: 0
Policy/Paragraph: About this consultation
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Delete
Inspector's Reason/ source: For INSERTED: effectiveness; Consultation has occurred
THIS REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION:
Our community has identified between 99 - 195 people who made their objection/ representations at Regulation 19, but which those same Objection Statements, the Council failed to publish.
If you find this respondent's name not on the list of Representors for the Examination, then it is possible this writer is amongst those respondents wrongly excluded from participation after Regulation 19. This is something you will need to investigate thoroughly for yourself.
As a result these participants (residents of East Luton and North Hertfordshire) have been left out of all communications from the Council thereafter.
Furthermore the Inspector also failed to inform these representors of their right to participate at Regulation 22.
The basis for modification MM001 therefore cannot apply so this Paragraph should not be removed.
The reason it should not be removed is because Consultation has not yet occurred for a very large number of representors who did make their Objections known to the Council at Regulation 19.
This Consultation must now be halted and there must be a detailed investigation conducted to establish exactly who was left out of the Examination Procedures at Regulation 22, why and who was responsible for excluding them.
Having been entirely left out of the Examination Consultation and participation process at Regulation 22, they were also denied all opportunity to put in any of their further "Matter Statements" at the start of this Examination. Consequentially they have also been left out of this current Modification Consultation.
This shocking event has occurred and leaves a heavy pressing question mark hanging over the already shadowy legitimacy of North Herts District Council's Local Plan and the hidden plans of its architects.
The Consultation cannot continue without all representors who made their views known in writing at Regulation 19. These representors must be afforded their due rights for fair Consultation at all stages beyond Regulation 19, under the Town and Country Planning Act and other Laws.
For this reason it is our urgent demand to the Inspector, and Secretary of State, and our MPs - that this Consultation be immediately suspended; until the exact numbers left out of this Consultation can be clearly identified and established. Also that the person/s responsible for this unacceptable breach be clearly identified. And their motives for removing such a huge number of representors be brought to the forefront for examination.
We are trying to establish the exact number of representors who were left out of the Consultation process, but the current number is running at, at least 74; with numerous additional people surfacing. But this is your job not ours' to investigate what has gone wrong. And you will need time to do that. So this Consultation must be suspended.
All members of the Public and stakeholders must be allowed by Law to participate in every stage of a Public Consultation without discrimination. Any Inspector judging the soundness of a Plan's preparation would know that it is simply not sound preparation by anyone's standards - to leave any, let alone such a huge number of Objectors out!

2) Modification objection - Policy SP1 - Sustainable development in North Hertfordshire - failure to protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1, EL2 and EL3)
Modification: MM008 - page 5 Parts (ii) and (iv)
Page LP 31
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP1 (c) (ii) and (iv)
Inspector's Proposed Modification: Revised
Inspector's reason/source: For effectiveness as proposed in LP3

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part (iv) states that this Plan 'will protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment including biodiversity, important landscapes, heritage assets and green infrastructure'.
This statement does not accord with the facts specifically below:
This stated policy does not meet the following three key objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in so far as it relates to the land parcel EL1/EL2 and EL3.
* ENV 1: Direct development towards the most sustainable locations which seek to maintain the existing settlement pattern. Arguably this objective cannot be said to be met by a development which totally destroys the existing settlement pattern).
* ENV 2: Protect and enhance the historic character of North Hertfordshire's towns, villages, hamlets and landscape by promoting good design that creates a distinctive sense of place. This objective cannot possibly be said to be met through a development that destroys and degrades the historic character of the three villages, and destroys the Green Belt landscape. The distinctive sense of place currently enjoyed by the three villages will be utterly destroyed by the swathe of new housing and other buildings that will surround and engulf the villages, no matter how good the design of the new development might be.
* ENV 3: Protect, maintain and enhance the District's historic and natural environment, its cultural assets and network of open spaces, urban and rural landscapes. The rural landscape to the west of the three villages will be lost for ever, as will be the network of open spaces.

In addition:

* The wildlife in this area will be displaced. We have healthy populations of deer, bats, owls, red kites and woodpeckers, to name but a few. So-called wildlife corridors are no substitute.
* The Chiltern Way national path runs from the south right through Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green thence to the north east - what impact will these new developments have on this prestige footpath route which is well used by walkers?
* This proposed development will not help to achieve policy ECON6 in the National Planning Policy Framework economic objectives which is to "Sustain the vitality of our villages and the rural economy in supporting rural diversification, whilst ensuring development is of an appropriate scale and character". It is obvious there
is no way this objective can be said to be met. Grade 3 agricultural land will be lost to make way for the new homes, the vitality and loss of identity of the three blighted villages will never be regained and the development on such a huge scale can never be described as being of an appropriate scale and character.

Part (ii) states that (inter alia): "provide opportunities for health lifestyle choices."

* If this development is allowed to go ahead in EL1. EL2 and EL3 it will have a detrimental effect on greenspace for people already living in the new area. Luton already has a very poor record in this regard. The Green Infrastructure Plan for Luton mentions the strategic role and importance of green space across the borough and its interrelationship with green space in neighbouring authorities to make publicly accessible open space assets available to all Luton residents as the population grows. Already in Luton, the town fails in 7 out of 10 categories to meet the current greenspace requirements - to the tune of 352 hectares. The loss of 116 hectares from the Cockernhoe Green Belt to housing will simply magnify that problem - not improve the situation - and Luton people already living In Wigmore will suffer from the loss of the greenspace.

Combined together these elements of Policy SP1 cannot therefore be said to be 'sound'.

3) Modification objection - Policy SP2 - Settlement Hierarchy and Spatial Distribution - fundamental objection to the plans for 2,100 homes to the East of Luton in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.
Modification: MM010 - page 6
Page LP 32
Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP2
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness to better explain the spatial strategy of the Plan following Matter 2 Hearing Session (ED53; ED138)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states that "approximately 80% of the District's housing settlement and the substantial majority of new employment, retail and other development will be located within the adjusted settlement boundaries of the following towns".
It then goes on to include Luton with the proposed 2,100 homes.
* The clear impression given by this statement is that these new homes are to be located within Luton's boundary area as opposed to the reality that these homes are scheduled for build on land in North Hertfordshire. This also gives the impression that this new development effectively will become part of Luton, rather than remaining in North Hertfordshire.
* We object to the sheer scale of this proposed development which is out of all proportion to the area. We do not believe the building of so many homes in the Cockernhoe area, and at such a scale, can be justified when compared to the likely impact of proposed developments on other areas of North Herts. This small area of just some 200 homes and a population of 400 in what is protected Green Belt land will suffer the largest increase in percentage terms across the whole NHDC district - a 1050% increase in home building -and much higher than anywhere else in percentage terms. In real housing terms this proposed development will be much bigger than developments planned for much larger centres such as Stevenage, Royston and Hitchin.
* This new development accounts for 13.16 % of all the new housing totals for North Hertfordshire under this Local Plan.

4) Modification objection - Policy SP4 - Town centres, local centres and community shops - fundamental objection to the proposed building of Class A retail in among the housing development planned for east of Luton in parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3

Modification: MM17 - page 10

Page: LP38

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 14 hearing sessions (ED56, ED77, ED117 and ED151)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This policy states, inter alia, that amongst the new retail developments 'identified in this plan will be one East of Luton in the strategic site'.

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here, because whereas there is further information given as to the types of retail provision planned for the major centres located in North Herts, there is absolutely no information given as to the scale of type of retail provision planned for the site east of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3
* In fact in the full Local Plan draft it does state that the provision in the East of Luton plans call for a new local centre. This will include 250 square metres of Class A1 convenience retail provision and 850 sq.m of other A-class floor-space and other necessary social infrastructure (implies small shops, fast food delivery, newsagents for the 250 sq. m; what will be involved in the 850 sq.m is unsure.
* We contend that this scale of development, alongside the 2,100 homes planned is totally out of scale and proportion to the area.

5) Modification Objection - Policy SP4 - Town Centres, local centres and community shops - objection to the inherent threat posed by the stated future proposal for the new retail centre in among the housing development planned for the East of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM020 - pages 12-13

Page: LP39

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP4; paragraph 4.44

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The statement at paragraph 4.44 states: "The growth of the District will require additional centres to be provided to serve the urban extensions at Baldock and on the edge of Luton. Once built these will become local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals within them will be assessed appropriately".

* We submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here because the so-called growth of the District to the east of Luton is almost totally geared to meeting a proportion of Luton's unmet housing needs, not because of the needs of the current residents of the three villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green.
* Furthermore, we believe this local centre be the thin edge of the wedge. The plan states that once built the new centres will be "local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals for them will be assessed appropriately." This is vague and threatening in terms of even more development likely to occur in the future.

6) Modification Objection - Policy SP5 - Countryside and Green Belt - objection to the removal of Green Belt protection from the East of Luton area in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.

Modification: MM023 - pages 13-14

Page: LP41

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP5

Inspector's proposed modifications: For consistency with national policy and legal compliance following Matter 15 hearing session (NHDC Matter 15 hearing statement ED55; ED152)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Part of this policy states that NHDC' has conducted a comprehensive review of the Green Belt. Land has been removed from the Green belt to:

- Enable strategic development at the SP8 location - which is land East of Luton
- Have provided new Green Belt to cover, in general terms, the area bounded by the Metropolitan Green belt to the east, the Luton Green Belt to the west and the A505 Offley by-pass to the north;
- Will only permit development proposals in the Green Belt where they would not result in inappropriate development or where very special circumstances have been demonstrated'.

* It is our contention that in re -drafting this section to make it consistent with national policy, it has in fact exposed the weakness of the NHDC position in relation to the Green Belt in this area as explained below.
* It is our contention that NHDC is being economic with the truth here. What it fails to mention is that the comprehensive review of the Green Belt in the land to the East of Luton (parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) first carried out several years ago identified that against the fundamental purposes 1 and 3 the Green Belt surrounding Cockernhoe made a SIGNIFICANT contribution to Green Belt purposes whereas the areas of Green Belt to the north and south (which are not proposed for development) registered only as MODERATE.
* The review also measured against purpose 2 - which is only peripheral in this case -because, although this area is located in the gap between Luton and Hitchin, the Green Belt plays a limited role due to the distance between the towns. Similarly against purpose 4 - the Green Belt is also peripheral because there are no historic towns in the area. In both cases it was deemed that the Green Belt score should be lower.
* There surely is an argument that although the three villages are not a town, the Green Belt most certainly preserves the character and setting of these three villages - some of which have been in existence for hundreds of years. However the NHDC review states that as the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green are not towns they are 'not significant from a Green Belt perspective.'
* This is perverse because there would have been no way that these villages would have been able to expand into being small towns because of the Green Belt protection.
* The end result - and it was equally perverse - was that despite measures 1 and 3 being the most important and relevant criteria for this area of the Green Belt achieving a SIGNIFICANT score, the overall score across the four measures was downgraded to what is termed a MODEST contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to our circumstances, were not rated as highly.
* More recently, NHDC revised its Green Belt assessment in a Review published in September 2018. This was done - among other reasons they say - due to criticism of the methodologies previously used and new better practice, but it clearly was also due to representations made by respondents (including a barrister representing Save our Green Belt who cited case law). There was very little publicity about this revised assessment; simply a document placed online in amongst hundreds of others and hardly noticeable.
* So where we are now is that the area around Cockernhoe has been re-assessed as making an overall SIGNIFICANT contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt, but it has taken over 2.5 years for NHDC to come belatedly to this conclusion.
* However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because it is deemed a strategic site and these sites are fundamental to the Plan's strategy. Also, it is the only one available to NHDC in this area that allows them under the Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring authorities to contribute to the unmet needs of the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA), but we also contend that the Duty to Co-operate has been grossly over-stipulated and over-planned by NHDC to the detriment of the existing settlements and residents around the Cockernhoe area.
* We would challenge NHDC strongly on the conclusions it has reached concerning changes to the existing Green Belt designations.
* When arriving at these conclusions NHDC has very conveniently glossed over the extremely pertinent and important fact that our area is now recognised as making a Significant Overall contribution to the Green Belt - probably one of the highest Green Belt ratings that can we awarded - yet it has concluded that despite this accolade the development to the 'East of Luton' should proceed simply because, it believes, its requirement to meet its housing targets overrides all other considerations.
* To the cynic it might appear that this was merely a masterly piece of duplicitous, sleight of hand employed solely to suit NHDC's preferred outcome. We require NHDC to explain/justify the criteria it employed when considering and arriving at its, possibly pre-determined, conclusion.
* Furthermore, we believe that this plan to remove the Green Belt from the Cockernhoe area will not sit well with the statement by Brandon Lewis, the then Minister of State for Housing and Local Planning in a letter to MPs June 7, 2016, which said: "The Government has put in place the strongest protections for the Green Belt. The framework makes it clear that inappropriate development may be allowed only in exceptional circumstances through the Local Plan process and with the support of local people. We have been repeatedly clear that demand for housing alone will not change the Green Belt boundaries."
* It is our contention that that the loss of the green belt around Cockernhoe together with the engulfing of three villages does not represent 'exceptional circumstances' to justify removing the green belt. We would also contend that the scale of this proposed development is totally inappropriate to this rural area and it certainly does not have the support of local people.
* This is especially so since both Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council have stated that in all probability they could build more houses in their respective areas to meet Luton's unmet housing needs and at better, more convenient locations, closer to the urban areas of Luton and to the better transport links. At the very least this holds out a realistic prospect that NHDC will not have to build 2,100 homes east of Luton and should result in the immediate halting of the development plans for this area East of Luton.
* NHDC also states that it plans to replace the Green Belt to the East of Luton area with another new Green Belt to the immediate east of the proposed development to protect the countryside from the urban sprawl it proposes to create and to prevent coalescence with Hitchin and Stevenage. We would argue that if the proposed development is allowed to go ahead, creating - in effect - a greater Luton eastwards it will only be a matter of time before this new proposed Green Belt area becomes under threat from further Luton expansion. What trust would the residents in the villages in this area put in NHDC given their actions towards the residents of the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green?
* Fundamentally the removal of the Green Belt in the Cockernhoe area to facilitate this proposed huge housing/infrastructure development is not 'sound' and should be rejected.

7) Modification objection - Policy SP6 - Sustainable Transport - objection on the ground that the aspirations of the NHDC planners to create sustainable transport provision in the proposed development East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) is unlikely to be achieved in practice.

Modification: MM028 page 15

Page: LP43

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP6

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 16 Hearing Session (ED55, ED105, ED153).

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The wording in SP6 is aspirational, talking of sustainable transport, cycle ways, walking etc. However, in relation to the proposed development east of Luton we would contend that, in large part, these aspirations are unlikely to be delivered for a variety of the following reasons:

* Road access will be from Luton Road (presumably much wider!!) and integrated into Luton's road network through Crawley Green Road, plus transport mitigation efforts to address impacts upon Luton. The NHDC Local Plan states that it believes the development can be accommodated 'without a significant adverse impact on the wider highway networks of Luton and Hertfordshire'.
* This doesn't tie in with the inadequacy of the roads to the east, plus the needs for mitigation methods to address impacts on Luton. The possible expansion of the secondary school to meet needs from the rural east will mean extra traffic (school runs) on the already inadequate single track roads.
* By contrast the Luton Local Plan indicates that the large East of Luton development will affect the local road network and there are likely to be affects in terms of increased traffic congestion and associated pollution. It also states in relation to the expansion of Luton Airport that this will create significant extra traffic to the airport, including an east-west direction through North Hertfordshire. This will add to the pressure on transport and infrastructure in the Luton Local Plan. Luton has also indicated that it foresees the need for a new road linking the proposed development to the A505. Where that might be built is not apparent at the moment.
* Therefore it does not appear that NHDC and Luton Borough Council are in agreement on this roads and traffic planning transport issue.
* With 2,100 new homes and probably an average of 2 cars per household we are looking at an extra 4000 cars in this area. If even a relatively small proportion of those cars make regular trips to the east (some people probably will work in Hitchin or Stevenage) the chances are they will use the single track roads down to Lilley Bottom and thence to Hitchin - roads already unsuitable and surprisingly busy at rush hours. Traffic westwards into Luton especially at rush hours will add further pressure to already busy access roads.
* The NHDC belief that the new development will enable sustainable transport journeys to be made to key services and locations is unlikely to be realised to a large extent in practice. If people in the new development work in the centre of Luton or commute into London, then the likelihood is cars will be used on the already busy roads, especially in rush hours. CAG Consultants said: 'the site is a long distance from the Luton town centre and the topography is undulating which would be a discouragement to walking or cycling into the town. The site is over 3km from Luton station so residents are likely to use private vehicles to commute and access services in Luton. The local road network into North Hertfordshire is sub-standard and development could reduce accessibility for existing residents".
* There seems to be no provision in the Local Plan to cater for the existing residents of the Cockernhoe area who wish to travel eastwards towards Hitchin /Stevenage, given that the same CAG consultants also stated that this development 'could reduce accessibility for existing residents due to the sub-standard of the existing roads into North Hertfordshire?
* Fundamentally we contend that the sustainable transport aspirations in the NHDC Local Plan in relation to the proposed development east of Luton is unlikely to be deliverable in reality and therefore should be regarded as not 'sound'.

8) Modification objection - Policy SP8 Housing - objection on the grounds that it is not at all certain that Luton has an unmet housing need of 1,950 homes that needs to be provided for by the proposed development to the East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3).

Modification: MM035 - Page 19

Page: LP pages 47-48

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP8
Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure the Plan is positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy following Matter 2,3,4,8,10 and 12 hearing sessions and consequential to MM010 (ED53, ED54, ED60, ED83, ED139, ED140, ED144, ED149).


THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

Section (b) of this policy states that HNDC will : ' provide additional land within the Luton HMA for a further 1950 net new homes as a contribution towards the unmet needs arising
from Luton'.

* It is our contention that the unmet housing need from Luton can better be achieved through additional house building within the Luton town boundaries, or from within the Central Bedfordshire District Council land adjoining Luton to the north and west. Both of these two authorities have indicated that they can probably provide more housing to meet Luton's unmet needs and in better locations to the urban area and transport links, thus cancelling out the requirement for homes needed from NHDC land.
* Luton Borough Council has over-delivered on housing supply in the past 10 years and its plans to build 8,500 homes within its town boundaries to meet part of its own unmet housing needs are almost exclusively on brownfield sites. Nonetheless Luton BC has indicated that it is possible that additional houses could be built on some of these sites and there are other brownfield sites that could also be used for housing. The projected re-siting of Luton Town Football Club from Kenilworth Road to the Power Court site in the next few years will further free up another big space for more housing - none of which in included in Luton BC's housing projections at the moment, other than an aspirational indication of housing possibilities on the Kenilworth Road site towards the end of the 2031 period.
* Central Bedfordshire has identified 669 sites for which planning permission for new housing has not yet been given. Of these 25 sites are within easy distance of the Luton conurbation and totals over 4,000 hectares (by comparison the East of Luton site totals 116.7 hectares) Quite a few of these sites are not in the Green Belt.
* NHDC's generous offer of 1,950 homes in an area of unspoilt Green Belt countryside is perverse when it is obvious that there is much more land available in Central Bedfordshire, as well as the prospect that Luton BC could build more homes than its target . Furthermore, the firm offer from NHDC is ridiculous when it is quite clear that Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council are not in agreement as to how many homes they can each build and where they should be built.
* NHDC has been far too eager to offer this land for Luton's unmet housing needs to the detriment of the Green Belt and the existing villages and residents around Cockernhoe. It would have been far better for NHDC to have made a conditional offer of the possibility of building homes in the Cockernhoe area, although Green Belt considerations would have to weigh heavily, to meet some of Luton's unmet housing needs, once the two authorities of LBC and CBC resolved their disagreements about how many homes they can build and where they should be built?

9) Modification objection - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2 and EL3 - East of Luton - objections as already expressed.

Modification: MM083 - Page 43

Page: LP71

Policy/Paragraph: Policy SP19

Inspector's proposed modifications: To ensure Plan is positively prepared, justified and effective (LP3, MOU5, NHDC Matter 10 statement (ED54, ED83, ED144)

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

There are two arguments which have been used above but which are still applicable to this Policy LP71, namely:

* point (d) in the policy regarding transport (see Modification objection (7) above);
* point (f) in the policy related to Luton's unmet housing needs and the contribution from within North Herts District Council of 1,950 homes from this proposed site (see Modification objection (8) above.

10) Modification objection - Cockernhoe and East of Luton

Modification: MM221 - Page 112

Page: LP150

Policy/Paragraph: Paragraph 13.66

Inspector's proposed modifications: For effectiveness following Matter 5 Hearing
Session.

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

The final two sentences of the paragraph read: 'The boundary has been drawn so as to include both the village of Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green and the adjoining expansion of
Luton. Outside this boundary the rest of the Cockernhoe ward is classed as Green Belt.'

* For the avoidance of doubt it should be accurately noted that the proposed expansion is not adjoining from Luton; but rather is adjoining towards Luton.

11) Modification objection - Reference to the Luton HMA

Modification: MM410 - Page 164
Page: LP224
Policy/Paragraph: 14.39
Inspector's proposed modification: For effectiveness
THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS PROPOSED MODIFICATION

This section dealing with the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA) explains how the authorities in this HMA - namely Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire District Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have worked together and jointly commissioned and subsequently agreed a Growth Options Study which demonstrates sufficient potential capacity within the Luton HMA to accommodate Luton's unmet housing needs.
* What this section does not say was that this Growth Options Study identified two small parcels of land that are not geographically in the Luton or Central Bedfordshire authorities areas - namely the land to the East of Luton (i.e. Cockernhoe land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) and a bigger piece of land within Aylesbury Vale DC (AVDC) at Edlesborough. It has 3,100 people representing barely 1% of the total population of the Luton HMA (over 322,000). Despite this small number it is still approximately twice the size/contribution of the NHDC land that forms part of the Luton HMA and ten times the size of the even smaller parcel of land around Cockernhoe that is slated for development.
* In reality both the NHDC and AVDC contributions to the Luton HMA are statistically insignificant.
* Despite the fact that this Edlesborough land is not within the Green Belt and could accommodate 1,200 homes with potentiality for almost 4,500, the four authorities between them saw fit to reject development on this land, despite the fact that on many criteria this parcel of land scored as well, if not better, than the proposed development East of Luton.
* It is our contention that the inclusion of the land east of Luton in with the Luton HMA has resulted is this small parcel and the three villages with its population of circa 500 (around 0.1% of the Luton HMA population) being earmarked to provide 1,950 homes out of the total of 9300 that is the unmet housing need of Luton - that is 21% of the total build. Totally out of all proportion.
* It is also our contention that NHDC's firm offer of housing from around Cockernhoe has simply allowed both LBC and CBC to assume that they don't have to build as many homes in their own geographic areas, thus making life easier for them, rather than forcing them to make bigger efforts to solve their own housing problems?
* It is also our contention that AVDC - which doesn't even include the fact that a parcel of its land is part of the Luton HMA in its Local Plan or in the Statement of Common Ground signed with NHDC - has benefited from NHDC's capitulation in not defending its own land parcel strongly enough. NHDC has been too keen to be seen to be complying with the Duty to Co-operate; a stance that is not emulated by other authorities.

12) Examination of Evidence Document ED140 - Matter 4 The Housing Strategy: Supply of land for housing - dated 1 April 2017
Appendix 3 - Revised North Herts Housing Trajectory

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENT
This document has been included in those among the Evidence Documents (ED137-ED158) on which the Inspector has requested any representations.
Appendix 3 of this document provides a table showing the planned building of homes on the three sites to the east of Luton (EL1/EL2 and EL3). This chart shows the following delivery profile for the building of the 2,100 homes proposed:


2021 140 homes 140 homes
2022-2027 190 homes per year = 1140 homes
2028-2031 205 homes per year = 820 homes
Total delivery 2100 homes over 11 years

* However, these figures and delivery profile do not agree with the more recent Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) - ED28 - signed in November 2017 between NHDC, Bloor Homes and The Crown Estate.
* This SOCG paints a rather different picture, showing the following:

2021 80 homes 80 homes
2022-2027 130 homes per year = 780 homes
2028-2031 135 homes per year = 540 homes

Total delivery 1400 homes

* There is a shortfall of 700 homes during the Plan period.
* Ominously, the SOCG states that after 2031 the build of homes will continue at the rate of 135 homes per year until the site is completed. This is a further 5 years, meaning that according to this SOCG, construction of the 2,100 homes on this proposed development will last a total of 16 years until 2035!!
* We contend that there is at the very least a significant discrepancy between these two papers - one of which the Inspector has required to be submitted for Evidence and consultation and the other (the SOCG), which is of a more recent date, and which to be found buried amongst the evidence documents.
* This is a serious discrepancy which goes to the very heart of the proposal by NHDC to build these homes to the east of Luton. We now find that instead of construction earmarked to be over the life of the Local Plan - 11 years - which is bad enough for the residents of the villages around Cockernhoe - the actual truth of the matter, hidden away in the SOCG, is that a further five years of misery are to endured by the local population to make 16 years of construction in the area - let alone the construction of the infrastructure that is also planned (2 schools, roads, A class retails, possibly a police base etc.).
* An enquiry surely needs to be held to determine whether officials/elected representatives of NHDC are complicit in this - what seems to be - deception. In the meantime, this is further evidence that the plans for proposed housing East of Luton should be scrapped.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7356

Received: 09/04/2019

Respondent: Welbeck Strategic Land IV LLP

Agent: DLP Planning Ltd

Representation:

Whilst our client supports the amends to alter the categorisation of Little Wymondley from a Category A village to an 'identified village for growth', clarity is sought as to the number of homes ascribed to the village and we request that additional text is added to the footnote.

Full text:

Our client supports proposed Main Modification 010 which amends Policy SP2 to alter the categorisation of Little Wymondley from a Category A village to an 'identified village for growth'.

We agree that this change better explains the spatial strategy as it distinguishes those settlements on which the Plan is reliant for the provision of the majority of the development needed to ensure the delivery of the overall spatial strategy.

We note that a figure of 306 dwellings is ascribed to Little Wymondley.

The equivalent figure set out in ED37 2A - Draft Revision to Policy SP2 is given as 316. We question which is the correct figure, albeit, that for the following reasons we do not consider this discrepancy critical to our support in principle to MM010.

Notwithstanding consideration of the correct 'baseline' figure for Little Wymondley, the figures quoted need to be understood in the context of the requirement set out in the policy to provide at least 15,950 new homes and therefore we also support the footnote to the Policy which makes clear that the figures quoted are not a target and do not necessarily represent the maximum number of new homes that will be built. For absolute clarity however we would ask that 'in any given location' is added to the end of the footnote.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7371

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Mr and Mrs Derek and Cherry Carter

Number of people: 2

Representation:

See attached.

Full text:

The revised plan still does not offer any new evidence to address the issue of building on Green Belt Land. The Plan still contains no evidence to justify special circumstance to allow Green Belt development.
One of the main functions of Green Belt is to prevent coalescence between towns and villages. It is 'where it is now' that is vital, it cannot arbitrarily be re-located elsewhere and still perform the same function.
LITTLE WYMONDLEY SITE WY1
To re-designate Little Wymondley as a growth village with no public consultation is a clear omission on the part if NHDC and is totally inappropriate given that other local authorities have followed a process of public consultation.
The scale of the proposed development WY1 is inappropriate given that the residents have clearly stated in their responses to the Neighbourhood Plan Survey that up to 50 houses could be accommodated in the parish without having a significant impact on the already overstretched transport infrastructure. The proposed development also does not take into account the accumulative impact on transport infrastructure of the adjoining local authority i.e. Stevenage Borough Council and its housing plans and proposed retail and commercial sites adjacent to the parish.
The site itself WY1 has only one access/exit for vehicular traffic on to Little Wymondley High Street, an area of high risk if flooding, as well documented data proves.
A high proportion of the flood water that travels along the High Street originates on the adjacent farm land and cannot be effectively be diverted elsewhere.
At times of flooding this could well result in no access or exit from the proposed site.
The site WY1 is also adjacent to the A602 the corridor that has consistently registered above legal limits of air pollution during the last year.
The proposed plans for WY1 shows a new primary school sited close to this persistent source of air borne pollution, is this wise?
To conclude, WY1 is not a suitable site for development because it is on Green Belt land, is adjacent to a known source of pollution, is at risk of being affected by flooding which has no guaranteed solution. It is on a scale not wanted by residents and would impact on an already saturated local road network.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7391

Received: 09/04/2019

Respondent: Mrs Margaret Charles

Representation:

See attached.

Full text:

I am writing with my concern for the proposed development around Little Wymondley.
I continue to fiercely object to the proposal to double the size of our village. My main concerns remain the size of the development, traffic congestion, air pollution, green belt depilation and flooding.
The development is far too large for our village coupled with the change of category for Little Wymondley from category A village to a growth village with no consultation on this and no communication to say that this was even being considered.
With the traffic we are already finding it impossible to get out on the A1 roundabout in rush hour, my husband had to travel all the way up to Letchworth on the A1 for a hospital appointment as just couldn't get across the roundabout. I cannot imagine how a doubling of cars will alleviate this situation.
Air pollution with the additional cars and transport coming in to build any development is just incomprehensible.
Green belt land is precious and I do not feel that sufficient thought has been put into changing the land use. I do not feel that thresholds have been met for changing the use and indeed a study has shown how important and needed the green belt is.
Lastly and not least the flooding in the village which will not be helped by additional dwellings.
Our village is important to us and someone needs to listen to local people and their genuine concerns.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7408

Received: 03/03/2019

Respondent: Mrs Jane Dorman

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

Please find below my comments/representations for the Consultation on NHDC's Local Plan modifications.

1. Subject: Modification Objection - Hundreds of Representors Lost from the Examination Process.
Modification: MM001

Between 99 and 195 people made their objections/representations at Regulation 19. However, the Council has failed to publish those Objection Statements. As a result these participants (residents of East Luton and North Hertfordshire) have been left out of all communications from the Council thereafter. In addition, the Inspector failed to inform these representors of their right to participate at Regulation 22. The basis for modification MM001 therefore cannot apply so this paragraph should not be removed as Consultation has not yet occurred for a large number of representors who did make their Objections known to the Council at Regulation 19. There must now be a detailed investigation conducted to establish who was left out of the Examination Procedures at Regulation 22, and why this exclusion occurred. These people have by default been denied the opportunity to register any of their further comments for the current Modification Consultation.

2. Modification objection - Policy SP1 - Sustainable development in North Hertfordshire - failure to protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1, EL2 and EL3)
Modification: MM008

Part (iv) states that this Plan 'will protect key elements of North Hertfordshire's environment including biodiversity, important landscapes, heritage assets and green infrastructure'.

This statement does not accord with the facts. Specifically, the stated policy does not meet the following three key objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in so far as it relates to the land parcel EL1/EL2 and EL3.

* ENV 1: Direct development towards the most sustainable locations which seek to maintain the existing settlement pattern.
Arguably this objective cannot be said to be met by a development which totally destroys the existing settlement pattern.
* ENV 2: Protect and enhance the historic character of North Hertfordshire's towns, villages, hamlets and landscape by promoting good design that creates a distinctive sense of place.
This objective cannot possibly be said to be met through a development that destroys and degrades the historic character of the three villages, and destroys the Green Belt landscape. The distinctive sense of place currently enjoyed by the three villages will be utterly destroyed by the swathe of new housing and other buildings that will surround and engulf the villages, no matter how good the design of the new development might be.
* ENV 3: Protect, maintain and enhance the District's historic and natural environment, its cultural assets and network of open spaces, urban and rural landscapes.
The rural landscape to the west of the three villages will be lost for ever, as will be the network of open spaces.
In addition:
* The wildlife in this area will be displaced. We have healthy populations of deer, bats, owls, red kites and woodpeckers, to name but a few. So-called wildlife corridors are no substitute.
* The Chiltern Way national path runs from the south right through Cockernhoe and Mangrove Green thence to the north east - what impact will these new developments have on this prestige footpath route which is well used by walkers?
* This proposed development will not help to achieve policy ECON6 in the National Planning Policy Framework economic objectives which is to "Sustain the vitality of our villages and the rural economy in supporting rural diversification, whilst ensuring development is of an appropriate scale and character". It is obvious that there is no way this objective can be said to be met. Grade 3 agricultural land will be lost to make way for the new homes, the vitality and loss of identity of the three blighted
villages will never be regained and the development on such a huge scale can never be described as being of an appropriate scale and character.
Part (ii) states that (inter alia): "provide opportunities for health lifestyle choices."
* If this development is allowed to go ahead in EL1, EL2 and EL3 it will have a detrimental effect on greenspace for people already living in the new area. Luton already has a very poor record in this regard. The Green Infrastructure Plan for Luton mentions the strategic role and importance of green space across the borough and its interrelationship with green space in neighbouring authorities to make publicly accessible open space assets available to all Luton residents as the population grows. Already in Luton, the town fails in 7 out of 10 categories to meet the current greenspace requirements - to the tune of 352 hectares. The loss of 116 hectares from the Cockernhoe Green Belt to housing will simply magnify that problem - not improve the situation - and Luton people already living In Wigmore will suffer from the loss of the greenspace.

Combined together these elements of Policy SP1 cannot therefore be said to be 'sound'.

3. Modification objection - Policy SP2 - Settlement Hierarchy and Spatial Distribution - fundamental objection to the plans for 2,100 homes to the East of Luton in the area around Cockernhoe (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.
Modification: MM010

This policy states that "approximately 80% of the District's housing settlement and the substantial majority of new employment, retail and other development will be located within the adjusted settlement boundaries of the following towns". It then goes on to include Luton with the proposed 2,100 homes.

* The clear impression given by this statement is that these new homes are to be located within Luton's boundary area as opposed to the reality - which is that these homes are scheduled for build on land in North Hertfordshire. This also gives the impression that this new development effectively will become part of Luton, rather than remaining in North Hertfordshire.
* I object to the sheer scale of this proposed development which is out of all proportion to the area. We do not believe the building of so many homes in the Cockernhoe area, and at such a scale, can be justified. This small area of some 200 homes and a population of 400 in what is protected Green Belt land will suffer the largest increase in percentage terms across the whole NHDC district - a phenomenal 1,050% increase in home building - and much higher than anywhere else in percentage terms. In real housing terms this proposed development will be much bigger than developments planned for much larger centres such as Stevenage, Royston and Hitchin.
* This new development accounts for 13.16 % of all the new housing totals for North Hertfordshire under this Local Plan.

4. Modification objection - Policy SP4 - Town centres, local centres and community shops - fundamental objection to the proposed building of Class A retail in among the housing development planned for east of Luton in parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3
Modification: MM17

This policy states, inter alia, that amongst the new retail developments 'identified in this plan will be one East of Luton in the strategic site'.

* I submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here, because whereas there is further information given as to the types of retail provision planned for the major centres located in North Herts, there is absolutely no information given as to the scale of type of retail provision planned for the site east of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3
* In fact in the full Local Plan draft it does state that the provision in the East of Luton plans call for a new local centre. This will include 250 square metres of Class A1 convenience retail provision and 850 sq.m of other A-class floor-space and other necessary social infrastructure (implies small shops, fast food delivery, newsagents) for the 250 sq. m; what will be involved in the 850 sq.m is unsure.
* I contend that this scale of development, alongside the 2,100 homes planned is totally out of scale and proportion to the area.

5. Modification Objection - Policy SP4 - Town Centres, local centres and community shops - objection to the inherent threat posed by the stated future proposal for the new retail centre in among the housing development planned for the East of Luton in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.
Modification: MM020

The statement at paragraph 4.44 states: "The growth of the District will require additional centres to be provided to serve the urban extensions at Baldock and on the edge of Luton. Once built these will become local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals within them will be assessed appropriately."

* I submit that effectiveness has not been demonstrated here because the so-called growth of the District to the east of Luton is almost totally geared to meeting a proportion of Luton's unmet housing needs, not because of the needs of the current residents of the three villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green.
* Furthermore, I believe this local centre be the thin edge of the wedge. The plan states that once built the new centres will be "local centres in our retail hierarchy and future proposals for them will be assessed appropriately." This is vague and threatening in terms of even more development likely to occur in the future.

6. Modification Objection - Policy SP5 - Countryside and Green Belt - objection to the removal of Green Belt protection from the East of Luton area in land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3.
Modification: MM023

Part of this policy states that NHDC has conducted a comprehensive review of the Green Belt. Land has been removed from the Green belt to:
- enable strategic development at the SP8 location - which is land East of Luton
- have provided new Green Belt to cover, in general terms, the area bounded by the Metropolitan Green belt to the east, the Luton Green Belt to the west and the A505 Offley by-pass to the north;
- will only permit development proposals in the Green Belt where they would not result in inappropriate development or where very special circumstances have been demonstrated'.

* It is my contention that in re-drafting this section to make it consistent with national policy, it has in fact exposed the weakness of the NHDC position in relation to the Green Belt in this area, as explained below.
* It is my contention that NHDC is being economic with the truth here. What it fails to mention is that the comprehensive review of the Green Belt in the land to the East of Luton (parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) first carried out several years ago identified that against the fundamental purposes 1 and 3 the Green Belt surrounding Cockernhoe made a SIGNIFICANT contribution to Green Belt purposes whereas the areas of Green Belt to the north and south (which are not proposed for development) registered only as MODERATE.
* The review also measured against purpose 2 - which is only peripheral in this case - because, although this area is located in the gap between Luton and Hitchin, the Green Belt plays a limited role due to the distance between the towns. Similarly against purpose 4 - the Green Belt is also peripheral because there are no historic towns in the area. In both cases it was deemed that the Green Belt score should be lower.
* There surely is an argument that although the three villages are not a town, the Green Belt most certainly preserves the character and setting of these three villages - some of which have been in existence for hundreds of years. However, the NHDC review states that as the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green are not towns they are 'not significant from a Green Belt perspective.'
* This is perverse because there would have been no way that these villages would have been able to expand into being small towns because of the Green Belt protection.
* The end result - and it was equally perverse - was that despite measures 1 and 3 being the most important and relevant criteria for this area of the Green Belt achieving a SIGNIFICANT
score, the overall score across the four measures was downgraded to what is termed a MODEST contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to our circumstances, were not rated as highly.
* More recently, NHDC revised its Green Belt assessment in a Review published in September 2018. This was done - among other reasons they say - due to criticism of the methodologies previously used and new better practice, but it clearly was also due to representations made by respondents (including a barrister representing Save our Green Belt who cited case law). There was very little publicity about this revised assessment, simply a document placed online in amongst hundreds of others and hardly noticeable.
* So the situation now is: that the area around Cockernhoe has been re-assessed as making an overall SIGNIFICANT contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt, but it has taken over 2.5 years for NHDC to come belatedly to this conclusion.
* However, this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because it is deemed a strategic site and these sites are fundamental to the Plan's strategy. Also, it is the only one available to NHDC in this area that allows them under the Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring authorities to contribute to the unmet needs of the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA), but I also contend that the Duty to Co-operate has been grossly over-stipulated and over-planned by NHDC to the detriment of the existing settlements and residents around the Cockernhoe area.
* I wish to challenge NHDC strongly on the conclusions it has reached concerning changes to the existing Green Belt designations.
* When arriving at these conclusions NHDC has very conveniently glossed over the extremely pertinent and important fact that our area is now recognised as making a Significant Overall contribution to the Green Belt - probably one of the highest Green Belt ratings that can be awarded - yet it has concluded that despite this accolade the development to the 'East of Luton' should proceed simply because, it believes, its requirement to meet its housing targets overrides all other considerations.
* To the cynic it might appear that this was merely a masterly piece of duplicitous sleight of hand employed solely to suit NHDC's preferred outcome. I require NHDC to explain/justify the criteria it employed when considering and arriving at its, possibly pre-determined, conclusion.
* Furthermore, I believe that this plan to remove the Green Belt from the Cockernhoe area will not sit well with the statement by Brandon Lewis, the then Minister of State for Housing and Local Planning in a letter to MPs June 7, 2016, which said: "The Government has put in place the strongest protections for the Green Belt. The framework makes it clear that inappropriate development may be allowed only in exceptional circumstances through the Local Plan process and with the support of local people. We have been repeatedly clear that demand for housing alone will not change the Green Belt boundaries."
* It is our contention that that the loss of the Green Belt around Cockernhoe together with the engulfing of three villages does not represent 'exceptional circumstances' to justify removing the Green Belt. I would also strongly argue that the scale of this proposed development is totally inappropriate to this rural area and it certainly does not have the support of local people.
* This is especially so since both Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council have stated that in all probability they could build more houses in their respective areas to meet Luton's unmet housing needs and at better, more convenient locations, closer to the urban areas of Luton and to the better transport links. At the very least this holds out a realistic prospect that NHDC will not have to build 2,100 homes east of Luton and should result in the immediate halting of the development plans for this area East of Luton.
* NHDC also states that it plans to replace the Green Belt to the East of Luton area with another new Green Belt to the immediate east of the proposed development to protect the countryside from the urban sprawl it proposes to create and to prevent coalescence with Hitchin and Stevenage. I would argue that if the proposed development is allowed to go ahead, creating - in effect - a greater Luton eastwards it will only be a matter of time before this new proposed Green Belt area becomes under threat from further Luton expansion. What trust would the residents in the villages in this area put in NHDC given their actions towards the residents of the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green?
* Fundamentally, the removal of the Green Belt in the Cockernhoe area to facilitate this proposed huge housing/infrastructure development is not 'sound' and should be rejected.

7. Modification objection - Policy SP6 - Sustainable Transport - objection on the ground that the aspirations of the NHDC planners to create sustainable transport provision in the proposed development East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) is unlikely to be achieved in practice.
Modification: MM028

The wording in SP6 is aspirational, talking of sustainable transport, cycle ways, walking etc. However, in relation to the proposed development east of Luton I would contend that, in large part, these aspirations are unlikely to be delivered for the following reasons:

* Road access will be from Luton Road (presumably much wider!) and integrated into Luton's road network through Crawley Green Road, plus transport mitigation efforts to address impacts upon Luton. The NHDC Local Plan states that it believes the development can be accommodated 'without a significant adverse impact on the wider highway networks of Luton and Hertfordshire'.
* This does not tie in with the inadequacy of the roads to the east, plus the needs for mitigation methods to address the impacts on Luton. The possible expansion of the secondary school to meet needs from the rural east will mean extra traffic (school runs) on the already inadequate single track roads.
* By contrast, the Luton Local Plan indicates that the large East of Luton development will affect the local road network and there are likely to be effects in terms of increased traffic congestion and associated pollution. It also states in relation to the expansion of Luton Airport that this will create significant extra traffic to the airport, including an east-west direction through North Hertfordshire. This will add to the pressure on transport and infrastructure in the Luton Local Plan. Luton has also indicated that it foresees the need for a new road linking the proposed development to the A505. Where that might be built is not apparent at the moment.
* Therefore it does not appear that NHDC and Luton Borough Council are in agreement on the roads and traffic planning transport issue.
* With 2,100 new homes and probably an average of 2 cars per household we are looking at an extra 4,000 cars in this area. If even a relatively small proportion of those cars make regular trips to the east (some people probably will work in Hitchin or Stevenage) the chances are they will use the single track roads down to Lilley Bottom and thence to Hitchin - roads already unsuitable and surprisingly busy at rush hours. Traffic westwards into Luton especially at rush hours will add further pressure to already busy access roads.
* The NHDC belief that the new development will enable sustainable transport journeys to be made to key services and locations is unlikely to be realised to a large extent in practice. If people in the new development work in the centre of Luton or commute into London, then the likelihood is that cars will be used on the already-busy roads, especially in rush hours. CAG Consultants said: 'The site is a long distance from the Luton town centre and the topography is undulating which would be a discouragement to walking or cycling into the town. The site is over 3km from Luton station so residents are likely to use private vehicles to commute and access services in Luton. The local road network into North Hertfordshire is sub-standard and development could reduce accessibility for existing residents."
* There seems to be no provision in the Local Plan to cater for the existing residents of the Cockernhoe area who wish to travel eastwards towards Hitchin /Stevenage, given that the same CAG consultants also stated that this development 'could reduce accessibility for existing residents due to the sub-standard of the existing roads into North Hertfordshire'?
* Fundamentally I contend that the sustainable transport aspirations in the NHDC Local Plan in relation to the proposed development east of Luton is unlikely to be deliverable in reality and therefore should be regarded as not 'sound'.

8. Modification objection - Policy SP8 Housing - objection on the grounds that it is not at all certain that Luton has an unmet housing need of 1,950 homes that needs to be provided for by the proposed development to the East of Luton (land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3).
Modification: MM035

Section (b) of this policy states that HNDC will 'provide additional land within the Luton
HMA for a further 1,950 net new homes as a contribution towards the unmet needs arising
from Luton'.

* It is my contention that the unmet housing need from Luton can better be achieved through additional house building within the Luton town boundaries, or from within the Central Bedfordshire District Council land adjoining Luton to the north and west. Both of these authorities have indicated that they can probably provide more housing to meet Luton's unmet needs and in better locations for the urban area and transport links, thus cancelling out the requirement for homes needed from NHDC land.
* Luton Borough Council has over-delivered on housing supply in the past 10 years and its plans to build 8,500 homes within its town boundaries to meet part of its own unmet housing needs are almost exclusively on brownfield sites. Nonetheless Luton BC has indicated that it is possible that additional houses could be built on some of these sites and there are other brownfield sites that could also be used for housing. The projected re-siting of Luton Town Football Club from Kenilworth Road to the Power Court site in the next few years will further free up another big space for more housing - none of which in included in Luton BC's housing projections at the moment, other than an aspirational indication of housing possibilities on the Kenilworth Road site towards the end of the 2031 period.
* Central Bedfordshire has identified 669 sites for which planning permission for new housing has not yet been given. Of these, 25 sites are within easy distance of the Luton conurbation and total over 4,000 hectares (by comparison, the East of Luton site totals 116.7 hectares). Quite a few of these sites are not in the Green Belt.
* I would strongly suggest that NHDC's generous offer of 1,950 homes in an area of unspoilt Green Belt countryside is perverse when it is obvious that there is much more land available in Central Bedfordshire, as well as the prospect that Luton BC could build more homes than its target . Furthermore, the firm offer from NHDC is ridiculous when it is quite clear that Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire District Council are not in agreement as to how many homes they can each build and where they should be built.
* NHDC has been far too eager to offer this land for Luton's unmet housing needs to the detriment of the Green Belt and the existing villages and residents around Cockernhoe. It would have been far better for NHDC to have made a conditional offer of the possibility of building homes in the Cockernhoe area, although Green Belt considerations would have to weigh heavily, to meet some of Luton's unmet housing needs, once the two authorities of LBC and CBC resolved their disagreements about how many homes they can build and where they should be built.

9. Modification objection - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2 and EL3 - East of Luton - objections as already expressed.
Modification: MM083

There are two arguments which have been used above but which are still applicable to this Policy LP71, namely:
* point (d) in the policy regarding transport (see Modification objection (7) above);
* point (f) in the policy related to Luton's unmet housing needs and the contribution from within North Herts District Council of 1,950 homes from this proposed site (see Modification objection (8) above).

10. Modification objection - Cockernhoe and East of Luton
Modification: MM221

The final two sentences of the paragraph read: 'The boundary has been drawn so as to include both the village of Cockernhoe & Mangrove Green and the adjoining expansion of Luton. Outside this boundary the rest of the Cockernhoe ward is classed as Green Belt.'
* For the avoidance of doubt it should be accurately noted that the proposed expansion is not adjoining from Luton; but rather is adjoining towards Luton.

11. Modification objection - Reference to the Luton HMA
Modification: MM410

This section dealing with the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA) explains how the authorities in this HMA - namely Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire District Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council - have worked together and jointly commissioned and subsequently agreed a Growth Options Study which demonstrates sufficient potential capacity within the Luton HMA to accommodate Luton's unmet housing needs.

* What this section does not say was that this Growth Options Study identified two small parcels of land that are not geographically in the Luton or Central Bedfordshire authorities areas - namely the land to the East of Luton (i.e. Cockernhoe land parcels EL1/EL2 and EL3) and a bigger piece of land within Aylesbury Vale DC (AVDC) at Edlesborough. The latter has 3,100 people representing barely 1% of the total population of the Luton HMA (over 322,000). Despite this small number it is still approximately twice the size/contribution of the NHDC land that forms part of the Luton HMA and ten times the size of the even smaller parcel of land around Cockernhoe that is slated for development.
* In reality both the NHDC and AVDC contributions to the Luton HMA are statistically insignificant.
* Despite the fact that this Edlesborough land is not within the Green Belt and could accommodate 1,200 homes with the potential for almost 4,500, the four authorities between them saw fit to reject development on this land, despite the fact that, on many criteria, this parcel of land scored as well, if not better, than the proposed development East of Luton.
* It is my contention that the inclusion of the land east of Luton in with the Luton HMA has resulted is this small parcel and the three villages with its population of circa 500 (around 0.1% of the Luton HMA population) being earmarked to provide 1,950 homes out of the total of 9,300 that is the unmet housing need of Luton - that is 21% of the total build. That is totally out of all proportion.
* It is also my contention that NHDC's firm offer of housing from around Cockernhoe has simply allowed both LBC and CBC to assume that they don't have to build as many homes in their own geographic areas, thus making life easier for them, rather than forcing them to make bigger efforts to solve their own housing problems.
* It is also my contention that AVDC - which doesn't even include the fact that a parcel of its land is part of the Luton HMA in its Local Plan or in the Statement of Common Ground signed with NHDC has been too keen to be seen to be complying with the Duty to Co-operate, a stance that is not emulated by other authorities.

12. Examination of Evidence Document ED140 - Matter 4 The Housing Strategy: Supply of land for housing - dated 1 April 2017

This document has been included in those among the Evidence Documents (ED137-ED158) on which the Inspector has requested any representations.
Appendix 3 of this document provides a table showing the planned building of homes on the three sites to the east of Luton (EL1/EL2 and EL3). This chart shows the following delivery profile for the building of the 2,100 homes proposed:

2021 140 homes = 140 homes
2022-2027 190 homes per year = 1140 homes
2028-2031 205 homes per year = 820 homes
Total delivery: 2100 homes over 11 years

* However, these figures and delivery profile do not agree with the more recent Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) - ED28 signed in November 2017 between NHDC, Bloor Homes and The Crown Estate.
* This SOCG paints a rather different picture, showing the following:
2021 80 homes = 80 homes
2022-2027 130 homes per year = 780 homes
2028-2031 135 homes per year = 540 homes
Total delivery: 1400 homes

* There is a shortfall of 700 homes during the Plan period.
* Ominously, the SOCG states that after 2031 the build of homes will continue at the rate of 135 homes per year until the site is completed. This is a further 5 years, meaning that according to this SOCG, construction of the 2,100 homes on this proposed development will last a total of 16 years until 2035!
* I contend that there is, at the very least, a significant discrepancy between these two papers - one of which the Inspector has required to be submitted for Evidence and consultation and the other (the SOCG), which is of a more recent date, and which is to be found buried amongst the evidence documents.
* This is a serious discrepancy which goes to the very heart of the proposal by NHDC to build these homes to the east of Luton. We now find that instead of construction earmarked to be over the life of the Local Plan - 11 years - which is bad enough for the residents of the villages around Cockernhoe, the actual truth of the matter, hidden away in the SOCG, is that a further five years of misery are to endured by the local population to make 16 years of construction in the area - let alone the construction of the infrastructure that is also planned (two schools, roads, A-class retails, possibly a police base etc.).

* I would strongly contend that an enquiry needs to be held to determine whether officials/elected representatives of NHDC are complicit in this - what appears to be - deception. In the meantime, this is further evidence that the plans for proposed housing East of Luton should be scrapped.

I look forward to receiving acknowledgement that you have received my above representations.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7425

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Mr and Mrs Robin and Josie Norledge

Number of people: 2

Representation:

See attached.

Full text:

Green Belt and "exceptional circumstances": Main Modification 023 (Policy SP5)

The Green Belt review update 2018 provides further confirmation that the area surrounding Little Wymondley, including the proposed development site WY1, makes a significant contribution to the Green Belt, yet the Main Modifications and Emerging Local Plan fails to explain the "exceptional circumstances" or "very special circumstances" that justify it's removal from the Green Belt. The only justification NHDC have given is that the site is available and that there is a need to build houses in their jurisdiction. The NPPF 2012 against which this NHDC Plan is being tested clearly states that housing need alone does not justify removing land from Green Belt. It is unrealistic that a Green Belt Review can in effect be in entirely re-written yet still arrive at exactly the same conclusion without modification of the Green Belt boundaries proposed for change.

Indeed in their supporting document for the Green Belt Review, HOU1 (Housing and Green Belt Background Paper, including the Housing and Settlement Hierarchy Background Paper, November 2014), NHDC state:

"The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) advises as follows:
If it is necessary to prevent development in a village primarily because of the important contribution which the open character of the village makes to the openness of the Green Belt, the village should be included in the Green Belt. "

This is partly why the village of Little Wymondley was excluded from development in the NHDC Local Plan 1996 and in the saved policies (2007) from this plan.

The modifications to the plan also extend the physical site size of WY1, as a result of a developer's request to build up to a geographical brow. This contour is not a natural physical element of the site, but manmade from the distribution of soil excavated from the bypass construction, which, I believe, may contain contaminated materials unrecorded from the early 20th century.

Additionally, the ONS household formation figures released recently indicate that NHDC have overestimated the number of houses needing to be built in their jurisdiction.

Brownfield sites in the district also seem to have not yet been exhausted, and it is my belief that these should be used in priority over Green Belt land.

Openness (Green Belt/Green Spaces): MM023

The NHDC main modifications to the plan reduces the openness of the area as a result of further extension, and does not take account of the sight-lines from the listed buildings identified in a land assessment survey conducted by NHDC, which is why the original site was considerably reduced in size initially. There has been no practical suggestion as to why the extension has now been permitted.

The NPPF 2012 states in Paragraph 97 (b) that "the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location;" - NHDC's plan and Main Modifications have no compensatory equivalent open space in the locality of Wymondley Parish, or the surrounding areas.

When looked at as a whole for this locality, NHDC's proposals for site WY1 (Little Wymondley), NS1 (1,700 dwellings near Graveley) and Stevenage Borough Council's proposals in their Local Plan for sites HO3 (abutting Graveley), EC1/4 & EC1/7 (industrial estates on the land adjacent to the A1(M) Junction 8 and on Little Wymondley village boundary at Chantry Lane), plus the additional live planning application (Application No 19/00123/FPM) for 133 dwellings on the land to west of A1(M) and south of Stevenage Road (Todds Green) (formerly part of the Wymondley Parish, until NHDC removed this when the parish applied for it's neighbourhood plan area), the rural character of the entire area around Wymondley Parish will be completely eroded, destroying the villages and creating an urbanised area - this is exactly the situation that the Green Belt protection was originally designed to prevent (urban sprawl).

Infrastructure/Traffic & Air Quality Issues:

The cumulative effects of all the above listed sites will also add unsustainable and unacceptable additional traffic movements in and around the parish of Wymondley. This added to the existing congestion issues, particularly around Junction 8 of the A1(M), and throughout the road network in the parish, will exacerbate existing air quality/pollution issues. Plus, the proposed expansion of London Luton Airport (work is proposed to start on a second terminal in mid-2020) from 18 million to 32 million passengers, will also lead to increased traffic from the A1(M) Junction 8 onto the A602 as a main route to the airport and increased air pollution.

Despite the Main Modification 119, Policy T1 of NHDC's Emerging Local Plan stating:
"planning permission will be granted provided that:
development would not lead to highway safety problems or cause unacceptable impacts upon the highway network and safety;
mechanisms to secure any necessary sustainable transport measures and / or improvements to the existing highway network are secured in accordance with Policy SP7 (SP7: The Council will require development proposals to make provision for infrastructure that is necessary in order to accommodate additional demands resulting from the development.)"
- no such consideration appears to have been applied in NHDC's allocation of sites for housing development in the Wymondley Parish area and its immediate neighbours.
Further, Main Modification 369 states: "Some minor roads leading to and from the villages within Wymondley parish may require other traffic management measures which will also need to be investigated and will be reflected in future iterations of the Infrastructure Development Plan. Mitigation could include environmental improvements to the village centre. The mitigation of these issues will be part of the wider package of measures identified through the wider consideration of network issues concerning A1(M) J8 and alternate routeings to this."

It is unacceptable to plan for these major developments now (WY1, NS1, HO3 etc.) without a robust infrastructure plan in place to accompany these and mitigate adverse impacts on air quality and climate change. It is also potentially dangerous to health, particularly to children. In SP7, MM033, it is suggested that people should "change their behaviour" and walk or cycle instead of using their cars - this is an unrealistic expectation, altruistic at best and is unreasonable, especially re: site WY1 where the resident's homes are some 4 miles from any town centre. It is certainly unreasonable to expect people to walk 4 miles to train stations to start their commutes to London (for whom the majority of these houses are seemingly being built), particularly in inclement weather.

NHDC's lack of infrastructure plan would appear out of touch with the core planning guidance on "sustainable development" as defined by the NPPF 2012 and Government Planning Guidance. Indeed, NHDC's Emerging Local Plan Strategic Policy SP1, paragraph 4.1 reflects the legal definitions sustainable development as "improving our lives today while not comprising our ability to do so in the future". SP1 also states that they grant planning permission for proposals that, individually or cumulatively: "provide the necessary infrastructure required to support an increasing population" and "secure any necessary mitigation measures necessary that reduce the impact of development, including on climate change".

The current Emerging Local Plan, Main Modifications and other neighbouring authorities' plans affecting the immediate locality of Wymondley Parish, are completely at odds with Policy SP1 for the reasons stated earlier. Put quite simply, humans need to breath clean air, and increasing vehicular movements, in an area where there is existing heavy traffic congestion and air pollution issues, cannot possibly be seen as "improving our lives today" or in the future. Breathing dangerously toxic air in the place that you live or work over a period of time shortens life expectancy as evidenced by Public Health England.

In the Main Modifications of NHDC's Emerging Local Plan Strategic Policy 7 includes a requirement

"for developers to include infrastructure plans for developments to address cumulative impacts that might arise across multiple developments and to avoid placing unreasonable additional burdens on the existing community or existing infrastructure"

- however, no such infrastructure plans have accompanied any plans for site WY1, or any other plans in the locality, suggesting that no developer has a plan, and it would appear NHDC also do not have a plan.

Total additional traffic from the combined sites could total more than 5,000 additional vehicles (or 10,000+ vehicle movements on a daily basis) in an area where the A1(M) and A602 are already at a standstill during peak commuting times. More standing traffic, standing for longer, will obviously increase air pollution levels - levels which are already in excess of the WHO and EU safe legal limits.

On the Bovis Homes plan for site WY1, the pedestrian and cycle access point in the private lane alongside the listed "Croft" dwelling is an agreed vehicular access to Ashwater House and the Lane incorporates a blind bend making it totally inadequate for the purpose suggested. Consequently the new residents of the WY1 development will find great difficulty with accessing sustainable transport links in the village or their own homes on the occasion of flooding.

OBJECTION TO: Change of Categorisation of Village: (Main Modification 010 & MM012)

The main modification 010 (SP02) now lists the village of Little Wymondley as a 'Growth Village' to disassociate it from a category A village, yet no public consultation has taken place in relation to this concept and the public are generally unaware that there are now five villages within the Local Plan that are destined to lose their 'Village' status. Nor has NHDC provided any justification for stating that Little Wymondley is now a village that "can support growth". There was no explanation during the NHDC local Plan Examination in Public. The examiner remarked that the local plan seemed unfair that some Category A villages were being expected to have a high level of growth (for Little Wymondley, this growth is 88%), while others had none. Instead of NHDC reviewing this unfairness, and re-distributing house allocations fairly and evenly, they have simply attempted to resolve this issue but changing the classification of 5 villages to "Growth villages" with little regard as to whether these villages could realistically contribute towards "sustainable" growth (i.e. the harm caused by the development does not outweigh the benefits of the development).

The Examination in Public (EiP) of NHDC's Local Plan provided a Memorandum of Understanding from NHDC with Bovis Homes to develop site WY1, despite the landowner confirming that it is now unlikely that Bovis Homes would be the final developer. Therefore deliverability of a readily available site is entirely questionable.

Air Quality:

The EiP introduced a heavily modified report stating, "planning permission would be refused in areas of poor Air Quality". It is assumed that this refers to Air Quality pollutant levels close to or exceeding the EU maximum allowable. At the EiP the QC representing the NHDC stated that the presence of an Air Quality Monitoring Area was recognised "which is why developments are being considered away from these areas". Recent monitoring results of the WY1 site area abutting the A602 carried out by the Wymondley Neighbourhood Plan Committee in co-ordination with Friends of the Earth, has established consistent readings following the correct DEFRA process and independently tested. These readings exceed the EU maximum allowable levels of air pollutants.

We welcome Main Modification 153 - Air Quality:
"The following are types of developments for which the Council would expect the submission of an air quality impact assessment: ...
- Anywhere else in the District, applications that are considered to be 'major' in scale for example: significantly increase vehicle movements, particularly heavy duty vehicles; . . .
- Or that: introduce humans to an area where air pollution is an issue, but where humans were previously not present."

However, this policy seems to have been ignored in large parts throughout the plan, especially in light of Main Modification 010 to Policy SP2 whereby Little Wymondley has been re-categorised as a "Growth Village" - the consideration of Main Modification 153 has not been applied to site WY1.
It also worth noting that the Transport Strategy of October 2017, written by Markides Associates Ltd (MA) on behalf of North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) to support the emerging Local Plan recognises there are severe issues:

"These historic towns and links to/from them [sic. roads through the villages] suffer from traffic congestion and some air quality problems. Their 'environmental capacity' to accommodate further traffic growth without detrimentally affecting the high quality of the local environment is limited, and a starting point should be managing traffic growth and avoiding significant increases in traffic through the towns where possible."
In the same report, it also acknowledged that the NHDC Local Plan will indeed increase traffic volume through the Parish of Wymondley. Section 3.44 of the same report also recognises that the roads in Wymondley Parish are "unsuitable" for volumes of traffic:
"Use of unsuitable roads by through traffic
3.44 As with most urban areas, there is some evidence that motorists are using unsuitable roads to avoid delays on congested routes. There are many locations where traffic volumes are probably unsuitable for the nature of the road, but the more 'strategic' routes noted in the modelling include:
Routes through Great Wymondley, by which traffic can bypass delays on the A602 between Hitchin and Stevenage;
The B197 through Graveley between Letchworth and Stevenage;
Willow Lane in Hitchin, which can be used by east/west traffic to bypass delays on the A505/A602 route; and
Stevenage Road [sic. in Little Wymondley], which can be used to bypass congestion on the A602 between Hitchin and Stevenage."
Despite their own Transport Strategy document highlighting the unsustainability of Wymondley Parish in terms of air quality and transport, NHDC are still including site WY1 in their emerging Local Plan and stating they will address the infrastructure issues "later" - this is simply unacceptable when the adverse impacts on people's life expectancy is so severe.

MM028 (policy SP6 "Sustainable Transport") states:
"We will deliver accessibility improvements and promote the use of sustainable transport modes insofar as reasonable and practicable. We will:
Comply with the NHDC Transport Strategy and the provisions of the Local Transport Plan and other supporting documents as relevant and considered necessary;
Encourage development in locations which enable sustainable journeys to be made to key services and facilities;
And yet NHDC have decided to add MORE houses to site WY1, which contradicts their own policy above.

Flood Risk:

Little Wymondley Village has suffered regular flooding incidents for more than a century as recorded by the McCloys report on behalf of the Hertfordshire County Council in 2015 following the severe flood event of 2014. There are 82 homes that will likely be affected and many residents along Stevenage Road, Little Wymondley, pay considerably high insurance premiums as a result of these regular events. Site plans emerging for the development of WY1 show a number of "lagoons" to collect surface water and these are sited higher than Stevenage Road with the potential to flood the homes below. No method to distribute the collected water elsewhere, or to drain it away from the lagoons, is stated within the developer's proposal. As the development at WY1 is proposed to be on higher ground than the existing Village, it will clearly contribute to increase flooding events for the existing residents.

The proposed and ONLY road to and from the proposed development at WY1 emerges in the worst flood zone within the Village. This area is detailed in the McCloys report and referred to regularly by the Environment Agency in other similarly located planning applications as a major flood zone.

Further, in assessing flood risk in HOU1 (Nov 2014), NHDC state:

4.65 These three sites [site 121 - now known as WY1] have a combined estimated capacity of 439 new homes. Removing these sites from consideration would not, by itself, prejudice the Council's ability to meet its Objectively Assessed Needs and it is therefore considered highly unlikely that these sites would be required. All three sites are within the Stevenage HMA and in the Green Belt.

Which does beg the question, why are NHDC pursuing this site when there are so many serious issues with it and it is not a large site in view of the total housing level required?

Education:

Little Wymondley currently has a primary school that holds an "outstanding" Ofsted capability. The increased size of Little Wymondley will require an increased FE size provision and a new site is offered by the proposed WY1 development. The proposed site at the south side of the proposed new development will place pupils and teaching staff, close to contaminated land, the known effects of overhead electricity pylons and alongside an illegal Air Quality area. As a consequence of the need for this provision, we request that the Schooling provision and its eventual site is decided upon BEFORE any permission is provided for a development in WY1.

Due to all the reasons given above, I believe that the NHDC Emerging Local Plan and Main modifications are not sound, or justified.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7431

Received: 11/04/2019

Respondent: Ms Jennie Hawkins

Representation:

See attached.

Full text:

Green Belt and "exceptional circumstances": Main Modification 023 (Policy SP5)

The Green Belt review update 2018 provides further confirmation that the area surrounding Little Wymondley, including the proposed development site WY1, makes a significant contribution to the Green Belt, yet the Main Modifications and Emerging Local Plan fails to explain the "exceptional circumstances" or "very special circumstances" that justify it's removal from the Green Belt. The only justification NHDC have given is that the site is available and that there is a need to build houses in their jurisdiction. The NPPF 2012 against which this NHDC Plan is being tested clearly states that housing need alone does not justify removing land from Green Belt. It is unrealistic that a Green Belt Review can in effect be in entirely re-written yet still arrive at exactly the same conclusion without modification of the Green Belt boundaries proposed for change.

Indeed in their supporting document for the Green Belt Review, HOU1 (Housing and Green Belt Background Paper, including the Housing and Settlement Hierarchy Background Paper, November 2014), NHDC state:

"The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) advises as follows:
If it is necessary to prevent development in a village primarily because of the important contribution which the open character of the village makes to the openness of the Green Belt, the village should be included in the Green Belt. "

This is partly why the village of Little Wymondley was excluded from development in the NHDC Local Plan 1996 and in the saved policies (2007) from this plan.

The modifications to the plan also extend the physical site size of WY1, as a result of a developer's request to build up to a geographical brow. This contour is not a natural physical element of the site, but manmade from the distribution of soil excavated from the bypass construction, which, I believe, may contain contaminated materials unrecorded from the early 20th century.

Additionally, the ONS household formation figures released recently indicate that NHDC have overestimated the number of houses needing to be built in their jurisdiction.

Brownfield sites in the district also seem to have not yet been exhausted, and it is my belief that these should be used in priority over Green Belt land.

Openness (Green Belt/Green Spaces): MM023

The NHDC main modifications to the plan reduces the openness of the area as a result of further extension, and does not take account of the sight-lines from the listed buildings identified in a land assessment survey conducted by NHDC, which is why the original site was considerably reduced in size initially. There has been no practical suggestion as to why the extension has now been permitted.

The NPPF 2012 states in Paragraph 97 (b) that "the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location;" - NHDC's plan and Main Modifications have no compensatory equivalent open space in the locality of Wymondley Parish, or the surrounding areas.

When looked at as a whole for this locality, NHDC's proposals for site WY1 (Little Wymondley), NS1(1,700 dwellings near Graveley) and Stevenage Borough Council's proposals in their Local Plan for sites HO3 (abutting Graveley), EC1/4 & EC1/7 (industrial estates on the land adjacent to the A1(M) Junction 8 and on Little Wymondley village boundary at Chantry Lane), plus the additional live planning application (Application No 19/00123/FPM) for 133 dwellings on the land to west of A1(M) and south of Stevenage Road (Todds Green) (formerly part of the Wymondley Parish, until NHDC removed this when the parish applied for it's neighbourhood plan area), the rural character of the entire area around Wymondley Parish will be completely eroded, destroying the villages and creating an urbanised area - this is exactly the situation that the Green Belt protection was originally designed to prevent (urban sprawl).

Infrastructure/Traffic & Air Quality Issues:

The cumulative effects of all the above listed sites will also add unsustainable and unacceptable additional traffic movements in and around the parish of Wymondley. This added to the existing congestion issues, particularly around Junction 8 of the A1(M), and throughout the road network in the parish, will exacerbate existing air quality/pollution issues. Plus, the proposed expansion of London Luton Airport (work is proposed to start on a second terminal in mid-2020) from 18 million to 32 million passengers, will also lead to increased traffic from the A1(M) Junction 8 onto the A602 as a main route to the airport and increased air pollution.

Despite the Main Modification 119, Policy T1 of NHDC's Emerging Local Plan stating:
"planning permission will be granted provided that:
a. development would not lead to highway safety problems or cause unacceptable impacts upon the highway network and safety;
b. mechanisms to secure any necessary sustainable transport measures and / or improvements to the existing highway network are secured in accordance with Policy SP7(SP7: The Council will require development proposals to make provision for infrastructure that is necessary in order to accommodate additional demands resulting from the development.)"
- no such consideration appears to have been applied in NHDC's allocation of sites for housing development in the Wymondley Parish area and its immediate neighbours.
Further, Main Modification 369 states: "Some minor roads leading to and from the villages within Wymondley parish may require other traffic management measures which will also need to be investigated and will be reflected in future iterations of the Infrastructure Development Plan. Mitigation could include environmental improvements to the village centre. The mitigation of these issues will be part of the wider package of measures identified through the wider consideration of network issues concerning A1(M) J8 and alternate routeings to this."

It is unacceptable to plan for these major developments now (WY1, NS1, HO3 etc.) without a robust infrastructure plan in place to accompany these and mitigate adverse impacts on air quality and climate change. It is also potentially dangerous to health, particularly to children. In SP7, MM033, it is suggested that people should "change their behaviour" and walk or cycle instead of using their cars - this is an unrealistic expectation, altruistic at best and is unreasonable, especially re: site WY1 where the resident's homes are some 4 miles from any town centre. It is certainly unreasonable to expect people to walk 4 miles to train stations to start their commutes to London (for whom the majority of these houses are seemingly being built), particularly in inclement weather.

NHDC's lack of infrastructure plan would appear out of touch with the core planning guidance on "sustainable development" as defined by the NPPF 2012 and Government Planning Guidance. Indeed, NHDC's Emerging Local Plan Strategic Policy SP1, paragraph 4.1 reflects the legal definitions sustainable development as "improving our lives today while not comprising our ability to do so in the future". SP1 also states that they grant planning permission for proposals that, individually or cumulatively: "provide the necessary infrastructure required to support an increasing population" and "secure any necessary mitigation measures necessary that reduce the impact of development, including on climate change".

The current Emerging Local Plan, Main Modifications and other neighbouring authorities' plans affecting the immediate locality of Wymondley Parish, are completely at odds with Policy SP1 for the reasons stated earlier. Put quite simply, humans need to breath clean air, and increasing vehicular movements, in an area where there is existing heavy traffic congestion and air pollution issues, cannot possibly be seen as "improving our lives today" or in the future. Breathing dangerously toxic air in the place that you live or work over a period of time shortens life expectancy as evidenced by Public Health England.

In the Main Modifications of NHDC's Emerging Local Plan Strategic Policy 7 includes a requirement

"for developers to include infrastructure plans for developments to address cumulative impacts that might arise across multiple developments and to avoid placing unreasonable additional burdens on the existing community or existing infrastructure"

- however, no such infrastructure plans have accompanied any plans for site WY1, or any other plans in the locality, suggesting that no developer has a plan, and it would appear NHDC also do not have a plan.

Total additional traffic from the combined sites could total more than 5,000 additional vehicles (or 10,000+ vehicle movements on a daily basis) in an area where the A1(M) and A602 are already at a standstill during peak commuting times. More standing traffic, standing for longer, will obviously increase air pollution levels - levels which are already in excess of the WHO and EU safe legal limits.

On the Bovis Homes plan for site WY1, the pedestrian and cycle access point in the private lane alongside the listed "Croft" dwelling is an agreed vehicular access to Ashwater House and the Lane incorporates a blind bend making it totally inadequate for the purpose suggested. Consequently the new residents of the WY1 development will find great difficulty with accessing sustainable transport links in the village or their own homes on the occasion of flooding.

OBJECTION TO: Change of Categorisation of Village: (Main Modification 010 & MM012)

The main modification 010 (SP02) now lists the village of Little Wymondley as a 'Growth Village' to disassociate it from a category A village, yet no public consultation has taken place in relation to this concept and the public are generally unaware that there are now five villages within the Local Plan that are destined to lose their 'Village' status. Nor has NHDC provided any justification for stating that Little Wymondley is now a village that "can support growth". There was no explanation during the NHDC local Plan Examination in Public. The examiner remarked that the local plan seemed unfair that some Category A villages were being expected to have a high level of growth (for Little Wymondley, this growth is 88%), while others had none. Instead of NHDC reviewing this unfairness, and re-distributing house allocations fairly and evenly, they have simply attempted to resolve this issue but changing the classification of 5 villages to "Growth villages" with little regard as to whether these villages could realistically contribute towards "sustainable" growth (i.e. the harm caused by the development does not outweigh the benefits of the development).

The Examination in Public (EiP) of NHDC's Local Plan provided a Memorandum of Understanding from NHDC with Bovis Homes to develop site WY1, despite the landowner confirming that it is now unlikely that Bovis Homes would be the final developer. Therefore deliverability of a readily available site is entirely questionable.

Air Quality:

The EiP introduced a heavily modified report stating, "planning permission would be refused in areas of poor Air Quality". It is assumed that this refers to Air Quality pollutant levels close to or exceeding the EU maximum allowable. At the EiP the QC representing the NHDC stated that the presence of an Air Quality Monitoring Area was recognised "which is why developments are being considered away from these areas". Recent monitoring results of the WY1 site area abutting the A602 carried out by the Wymondley Neighbourhood Plan Committee in co-ordination with Friends of the Earth, has established consistent readings following the correct DEFRA process and independently tested. These readings exceed the EU maximum allowable levels of air pollutants.

We welcome Main Modification 153 - Air Quality:
"The following are types of developments for which the Council would expect the submission of an air quality impact assessment: ...
- Anywhere else in the District, applications that are considered to be 'major' in scale for example: significantly increase vehicle movements, particularly heavy duty vehicles; . . .
- Or that: introduce humans to an area where air pollution is an issue, but where humans were previously not present."

However, this policy seems to have been ignored in large parts throughout the plan, especially in light of Main Modification 010 to Policy SP2 whereby Little Wymondley has been re-categorised as a "Growth Village" - the consideration of Main Modification 153 has not been applied to site WY1.
It also worth noting that the Transport Strategy of October 2017, written by Markides Associates Ltd (MA) on behalf of North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) to support the emerging Local Plan recognises there are severe issues:

"These historic towns and links to/from them [sic. roads through the villages] suffer from traffic congestion and some air quality problems. Their 'environmental capacity' to accommodate further traffic growth without detrimentally affecting the high quality of the local environment is limited, and a starting point should be managing traffic growth and avoiding significant increases in traffic through the towns where possible."
In the same report, it also acknowledged that the NHDC Local Plan will indeed increase traffic volume through the Parish of Wymondley. Section 3.44 of the same report also recognises that the roads in Wymondley Parish are "unsuitable" for volumes of traffic:
"Use of unsuitable roads by through traffic
3.44 As with most urban areas, there is some evidence that motorists are using unsuitable roads to avoid delays on congested routes. There are many locations where traffic volumes are probably unsuitable for the nature of the road, but the more 'strategic' routes noted in the modelling include:
* Routes through Great Wymondley, by which traffic can bypass delays on the A602 between Hitchin and Stevenage;
* The B197 through Graveley between Letchworth and Stevenage;
* Willow Lane in Hitchin, which can be used by east/west traffic to bypass delays on the A505/A602 route; and
* Stevenage Road [sic. in Little Wymondley], which can be used to bypass congestion on the A602 between Hitchin and Stevenage."
Despite their own Transport Strategy document highlighting the unsustainability of Wymondley Parish in terms of air quality and transport, NHDC are still including site WY1 in their emerging Local Plan and stating they will address the infrastructure issues "later" - this is simply unacceptable when the adverse impacts on people's life expectancy is so severe.

MM028 (policy SP6 "Sustainable Transport") states:
"We will deliver accessibility improvements and promote the use of sustainable transport modes insofar as reasonable and practicable. We will:
1. Comply with the NHDC Transport Strategy and the provisions of the Local Transport Plan and other supporting documents as relevant and considered necessary;
2. Encourage development in locations which enable sustainable journeys to be made to key services and facilities;
And yet NHDC have decided to add MORE houses to site WY1, which contradicts their own policy above.

Flood Risk:

Little Wymondley Village has suffered regular flooding incidents for more than a century as recorded by the McCloys report on behalf of the Hertfordshire County Council in 2015 following the severe flood event of 2014. There are 82 homes that will likely be affected and many residents along Stevenage Road, Little Wymondley, pay considerably high insurance premiums as a result of these regular events. Site plans emerging for the development of WY1 show a number of "lagoons" to collect surface water and these are sited higher than Stevenage Road with the potential to flood the homes below. No method to distribute the collected water elsewhere, or to drain it away from the lagoons, is stated within the developer's proposal. As the development at WY1 is proposed to be on higher ground than the existingVillage, it will clearly contribute to increase flooding events for the existing residents.

The proposed and ONLY road to and from the proposed development at WY1 emerges in the worst flood zone within the Village. This area is detailed in the McCloys report and referred to regularly by the Environment Agency in other similarly located planning applications as a major flood zone.

Further, in assessing flood risk in HOU1 (Nov 2014), NHDC state:

4.65 These three sites [site 121 - now known as WY1] have a combined estimated capacity of 439 new homes. Removing these sites from consideration would not, by itself, prejudice the Council's ability to meet its Objectively Assessed Needs and it is therefore considered highly unlikely that these sites would be required. All three sites are within the Stevenage HMA and in the Green Belt.

Which does beg the question, why are NHDC pursuing this site when there are so many serious issues with it and it is not a large site in view of the total housing level required?

Education:

Little Wymondley currently has a primary school that holds an "outstanding" Ofsted capability. The increased size of Little Wymondley will require an increased FE size provision and a new site is offered by the proposed WY1 development. The proposed site at the south side of the proposed new development will place pupils and teaching staff, close to contaminated land, the known effects of overhead electricity pylons and alongside an illegal Air Quality area. As a consequence of the need for this provision, we request that the Schooling provision and its eventual site is decided upon BEFORE any permission is provided for a development in WY1.

Due to all the reasons given above, I believe that the NHDC Emerging Local Plan and Main modifications are not sound, or justified.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7438

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Janet Sunderland

Representation:

See attached.

Full text:

Green Belt and "exceptional circumstances": Main Modification 023 (Policy SP5)

The Green Belt review update 2018 provides further confirmation that the area surrounding Little Wymondley, including the proposed development site WY1, makes a significant contribution to the Green Belt, yet the Main Modifications and Emerging Local Plan fails to explain the "exceptional circumstances" or "very special circumstances" that justify it's removal from the Green Belt. The only justification NHDC have given is that the site is available and that there is a need to build houses in their jurisdiction. The NPPF 2012 against which this NHDC Plan is being tested clearly states that housing need alone does not justify removing land from Green Belt. It is unrealistic that a Green Belt Review can in effect be in entirely re-written yet still arrive at exactly the same conclusion without modification of the Green Belt boundaries proposed for change.

Indeed in their supporting document for the Green Belt Review, HOU1 (Housing and Green Belt Background Paper, including the Housing and Settlement Hierarchy Background Paper, November 2014), NHDC state:

"The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) advises as follows:
If it is necessary to prevent development in a village primarily because of the important contribution which the open character of the village makes to the openness of the Green Belt, the village should be included in the Green Belt. "

This is partly why the village of Little Wymondley was excluded from development in the NHDC Local Plan 1996 and in the saved policies (2007) from this plan.

The modifications to the plan also extend the physical site size of WY1, as a result of a developer's request to build up to a geographical brow. This contour is not a natural physical element of the site, but manmade from the distribution of soil excavated from the bypass construction, which, I believe, may contain contaminated materials unrecorded from the early 20th century.

Additionally, the ONS household formation figures released recently indicate that NHDC have overestimated the number of houses needing to be built in their jurisdiction.

Brownfield sites in the district also seem to have not yet been exhausted, and it is my belief that these should be used in priority over Green Belt land.

Openness (Green Belt/Green Spaces): MM023

The NHDC main modifications to the plan reduces the openness of the area as a result of further extension, and does not take account of the sight-lines from the listed buildings identified in a land assessment survey conducted by NHDC, which is why the original site was considerably reduced in size initially. There has been no practical suggestion as to why the extension has now been permitted.

The NPPF 2012 states in Paragraph 97 (b) that "the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location;" - NHDC's plan and Main Modifications have no compensatory equivalent open space in the locality of Wymondley Parish, or the surrounding areas.

When looked at as a whole for this locality, NHDC's proposals for site WY1 (Little Wymondley), NS1 (1,700 dwellings near Graveley) and Stevenage Borough Council's proposals in their Local Plan for sites HO3 (abutting Graveley), EC1/4 & EC1/7 (industrial estates on the land adjacent to the A1(M) Junction 8 and on Little Wymondley village boundary at Chantry Lane), plus the additional live planning application (Application No 19/00123/FPM) for 133 dwellings on the land to west of A1(M) and south of Stevenage Road (Todds Green) (formerly part of the Wymondley Parish, until NHDC removed this when the parish applied for it's neighbourhood plan area), the rural character of the entire area around Wymondley Parish will be completely eroded, destroying the villages and creating an urbanised area - this is exactly the situation that the Green Belt protection was originally designed to prevent (urban sprawl).

Infrastructure/Traffic & Air Quality Issues:

The cumulative effects of all the above listed sites will also add unsustainable and unacceptable additional traffic movements in and around the parish of Wymondley. This added to the existing congestion issues, particularly around Junction 8 of the A1(M), and throughout the road network in the parish, will exacerbate existing air quality/pollution issues. Plus, the proposed expansion of London Luton Airport (work is proposed to start on a second terminal in mid-2020) from 18 million to 32 million passengers, will also lead to increased traffic from the A1(M) Junction 8 onto the A602 as a main route to the airport and increased air pollution.

Despite the Main Modification 119, Policy T1 of NHDC's Emerging Local Plan stating:
"planning permission will be granted provided that:
a. development would not lead to highway safety problems or cause unacceptable impacts upon the highway network and safety;
b. mechanisms to secure any necessary sustainable transport measures and / or improvements to the existing highway network are secured in accordance with Policy SP7 (SP7: The Council will require development proposals to make provision for infrastructure that is necessary in order to accommodate additional demands resulting from the development.)"
- no such consideration appears to have been applied in NHDC's allocation of sites for housing development in the Wymondley Parish area and its immediate neighbours.
Further, Main Modification 369 states: "Some minor roads leading to and from the villages within Wymondley parish may require other traffic management measures which will also need to be investigated and will be reflected in future iterations of the Infrastructure Development Plan. Mitigation could include environmental improvements to the village centre. The mitigation of these issues will be part of the wider package of measures identified through the wider consideration of network issues concerning A1(M) J8 and alternate routeings to this."

It is unacceptable to plan for these major developments now (WY1, NS1, HO3 etc.) without a robust infrastructure plan in place to accompany these and mitigate adverse impacts on air quality and climate change. It is also potentially dangerous to health, particularly to children. In SP7, MM033, it is suggested that people should "change their behaviour" and walk or cycle instead of using their cars - this is an unrealistic expectation, altruistic at best and is unreasonable, especially re: site WY1 where the resident's homes are some 4 miles from any town centre. It is certainly unreasonable to expect people to walk 4 miles to train stations to start their commutes to London (for whom the majority of these houses are seemingly being built), particularly in inclement weather.

NHDC's lack of infrastructure plan would appear out of touch with the core planning guidance on "sustainable development" as defined by the NPPF 2012 and Government Planning Guidance. Indeed, NHDC's Emerging Local Plan Strategic Policy SP1, paragraph 4.1 reflects the legal definitions sustainable development as "improving our lives today while not comprising our ability to do so in the future". SP1 also states that they grant planning permission for proposals that, individually or cumulatively: "provide the necessary infrastructure required to support an increasing population" and "secure any necessary mitigation measures necessary that reduce the impact of development, including on climate change".

The current Emerging Local Plan, Main Modifications and other neighbouring authorities' plans affecting the immediate locality of Wymondley Parish, are completely at odds with Policy SP1 for the reasons stated earlier. Put quite simply, humans need to breath clean air, and increasing vehicular movements, in an area where there is existing heavy traffic congestion and air pollution issues, cannot possibly be seen as "improving our lives today" or in the future. Breathing dangerously toxic air in the place that you live or work over a period of time shortens life expectancy as evidenced by Public Health England.

In the Main Modifications of NHDC's Emerging Local Plan Strategic Policy 7 includes a requirement

"for developers to include infrastructure plans for developments to address cumulative impacts that might arise across multiple developments and to avoid placing unreasonable additional burdens on the existing community or existing infrastructure"

- however, no such infrastructure plans have accompanied any plans for site WY1, or any other plans in the locality, suggesting that no developer has a plan, and it would appear NHDC also do not have a plan.

Total additional traffic from the combined sites could total more than 5,000 additional vehicles (or 10,000+ vehicle movements on a daily basis) in an area where the A1(M) and A602 are already at a standstill during peak commuting times. More standing traffic, standing for longer, will obviously increase air pollution levels - levels which are already in excess of the WHO and EU safe legal limits.

On the Bovis Homes plan for site WY1, the pedestrian and cycle access point in the private lane alongside the listed "Croft" dwelling is an agreed vehicular access to Ashwater House and the Lane incorporates a blind bend making it totally inadequate for the purpose suggested. Consequently the new residents of the WY1 development will find great difficulty with accessing sustainable transport links in the village or their own homes on the occasion of flooding.

OBJECTION TO: Change of Categorisation of Village: (Main Modification 010 & MM012)

The main modification 010 (SP02) now lists the village of Little Wymondley as a 'Growth Village' to disassociate it from a category A village, yet no public consultation has taken place in relation to this concept and the public are generally unaware that there are now five villages within the Local Plan that are destined to lose their 'Village' status. Nor has NHDC provided any justification for stating that Little Wymondley is now a village that "can support growth". There was no explanation during the NHDC local Plan Examination in Public. The examiner remarked that the local plan seemed unfair that some Category A villages were being expected to have a high level of growth (for Little Wymondley, this growth is 88%), while others had none. Instead of NHDC reviewing this unfairness, and re-distributing house allocations fairly and evenly, they have simply attempted to resolve this issue but changing the classification of 5 villages to "Growth villages" with little regard as to whether these villages could realistically contribute towards "sustainable" growth (i.e. the harm caused by the development does not outweigh the benefits of the development).

The Examination in Public (EiP) of NHDC's Local Plan provided a Memorandum of Understanding from NHDC with Bovis Homes to develop site WY1, despite the landowner confirming that it is now unlikely that Bovis Homes would be the final developer. Therefore deliverability of a readily available site is entirely questionable.

Air Quality:

The EiP introduced a heavily modified report stating, "planning permission would be refused in areas of poor Air Quality". It is assumed that this refers to Air Quality pollutant levels close to or exceeding the EU maximum allowable. At the EiP the QC representing the NHDC stated that the presence of an Air Quality Monitoring Area was recognised "which is why developments are being considered away from these areas". Recent monitoring results of the WY1 site area abutting the A602 carried out by the Wymondley Neighbourhood Plan Committee in co-ordination with Friends of the Earth, has established consistent readings following the correct DEFRA process and independently tested. These readings exceed the EU maximum allowable levels of air pollutants.

We welcome Main Modification 153 - Air Quality:
"The following are types of developments for which the Council would expect the submission of an air quality impact assessment: ...
- Anywhere else in the District, applications that are considered to be 'major' in scale for example: significantly increase vehicle movements, particularly heavy duty vehicles; . . .
- Or that: introduce humans to an area where air pollution is an issue, but where humans were previously not present."

However, this policy seems to have been ignored in large parts throughout the plan, especially in light of Main Modification 010 to Policy SP2 whereby Little Wymondley has been re-categorised as a "Growth Village" - the consideration of Main Modification 153 has not been applied to site WY1.
It also worth noting that the Transport Strategy of October 2017, written by Markides Associates Ltd (MA) on behalf of North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) to support the emerging Local Plan recognises there are severe issues:

"These historic towns and links to/from them [sic. roads through the villages] suffer from traffic congestion and some air quality problems. Their 'environmental capacity' to accommodate further traffic growth without detrimentally affecting the high quality of the local environment is limited, and a starting point should be managing traffic growth and avoiding significant increases in traffic through the towns where possible."
In the same report, it also acknowledged that the NHDC Local Plan will indeed increase traffic volume through the Parish of Wymondley. Section 3.44 of the same report also recognises that the roads in Wymondley Parish are "unsuitable" for volumes of traffic:
"Use of unsuitable roads by through traffic
3.44 As with most urban areas, there is some evidence that motorists are using unsuitable roads to avoid delays on congested routes. There are many locations where traffic volumes are probably unsuitable for the nature of the road, but the more 'strategic' routes noted in the modelling include:
* Routes through Great Wymondley, by which traffic can bypass delays on the A602 between Hitchin and Stevenage;
* The B197 through Graveley between Letchworth and Stevenage;
* Willow Lane in Hitchin, which can be used by east/west traffic to bypass delays on the A505/A602 route; and
* Stevenage Road [sic. in Little Wymondley], which can be used to bypass congestion on the A602 between Hitchin and Stevenage."
Despite their own Transport Strategy document highlighting the unsustainability of Wymondley Parish in terms of air quality and transport, NHDC are still including site WY1 in their emerging Local Plan and stating they will address the infrastructure issues "later" - this is simply unacceptable when the adverse impacts on people's life expectancy is so severe.

MM028 (policy SP6 "Sustainable Transport") states:
"We will deliver accessibility improvements and promote the use of sustainable transport modes insofar as reasonable and practicable. We will:
1. Comply with the NHDC Transport Strategy and the provisions of the Local Transport Plan and other supporting documents as relevant and considered necessary;
2. Encourage development in locations which enable sustainable journeys to be made to key services and facilities;
And yet NHDC have decided to add MORE houses to site WY1, which contradicts their own policy above.

Flood Risk:

Little Wymondley Village has suffered regular flooding incidents for more than a century as recorded by the McCloys report on behalf of the Hertfordshire County Council in 2015 following the severe flood event of 2014. There are 82 homes that will likely be affected and many residents along Stevenage Road, Little Wymondley, pay considerably high insurance premiums as a result of these regular events. Site plans emerging for the development of WY1 show a number of "lagoons" to collect surface water and these are sited higher than Stevenage Road with the potential to flood the homes below. No method to distribute the collected water elsewhere, or to drain it away from the lagoons, is stated within the developer's proposal. As the development at WY1 is proposed to be on higher ground than the existing Village, it will clearly contribute to increase flooding events for the existing residents.

The proposed and ONLY road to and from the proposed development at WY1 emerges in the worst flood zone within the Village. This area is detailed in the McCloys report and referred to regularly by the Environment Agency in other similarly located planning applications as a major flood zone.

Further, in assessing flood risk in HOU1 (Nov 2014), NHDC state:

4.65 These three sites [site 121 - now known as WY1] have a combined estimated capacity of 439 new homes. Removing these sites from consideration would not, by itself, prejudice the Council's ability to meet its Objectively Assessed Needs and it is therefore considered highly unlikely that these sites would be required. All three sites are within the Stevenage HMA and in the Green Belt.

Which does beg the question, why are NHDC pursuing this site when there are so many serious issues with it and it is not a large site in view of the total housing level required?

Education:

Little Wymondley currently has a primary school that holds an "outstanding" Ofsted capability. The increased size of Little Wymondley will require an increased FE size provision and a new site is offered by the proposed WY1 development. The proposed site at the south side of the proposed new development will place pupils and teaching staff, close to contaminated land, the known effects of overhead electricity pylons and alongside an illegal Air Quality area. As a consequence of the need for this provision, we request that the Schooling provision and its eventual site is decided upon BEFORE any permission is provided for a development in WY1.

Due to all the reasons given above, I believe that the NHDC Emerging Local Plan and Main modifications are not sound, or justified.