MM083 - Page 71 Policy SP19

Showing comments and forms 1 to 30 of 45

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6984

Received: 05/03/2019

Respondent: Mr David Parker

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 6993

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: 7004

Received: 02/03/2019

Respondent: Mrs Verity Williams

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7028

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: 7162

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: 7187

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: 7201

Received: 28/02/2019

Respondent: The Breachwood Green Society

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

Policy SP1 - Stated policy is to ensure the vitality of the district's villages and protect the biodiversity of the landscape. This is directly contradicted by the East of Luton Development. This would destroy the character of the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove and Tea Green, disrupt community life and cause coalescence. It proposes replacing the existing ancient landscape with an artificially created 'amenity area'.
Policy SP19 directly contradicts the established principle of coalescence that is in place to protect small communities, by advocating 'the integration of existing settlements.'
This attempt to disguise a volte-face on what village communities need is being promoted to provide just 150 homes for Herts - the remaining thousands to accommodate Luton's needs which appear to be escalating (Policy SP8) and requiring even more Herts land.
The location is inappropriate for development since it encroaches on Green Belt land and is very badly located in relation to transport links to all the main routes to the West and the effect of the extra traffic burden on local country lanes in Hertfordshire.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7217

Received: 02/03/2019

Respondent: Ms Clementine Alicia Williams

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7231

Received: 03/03/2019

Respondent: Mr James Williams

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7293

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: 7348

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: 7414

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: 7419

Received: 11/04/2019

Respondent: Mr Ajay V Sule

Representation:

See full text below

Full text:

I am writing regarding the main modification consultation of North Herts Local Plan's for 2100 houses around Cockernhoe and Country view.
Residents of Hertfordshire are being advised that these houses are necessary for the unmet housing need of Luton.
There has been a lot of work done by local residents recently particularly Reg Norgan , David Doorman and Carolyn Cottier on whether this really is the case. I believe they have also written to you with their figures which show that this is not the case.
Luton is currently building houses and flats in Napier Park as well as other areas, which accommodates their need.
There is no longer an unmet need for Luton, therefore North Herts should not be looking at sacrificing these precious green belts areas for development for Luton.
The noise population is something that has already been raised in my previous letters of objection as well as the wildlife preservation.
The lack of infrastructure, particularly by way of roads to Luton and the motorway I have previously mentioned too. It is already dreadful without these 2100 houses. I have lived in the village for over 26 years and have seen my commute time to the station or the motorway at peak times increase exponentially.
I hope that North Herts will for once and all stop this idea of building houses in this area and allow residents of Luton and North Herts to enjoy this beautiful countryside, especially when Luton does not have an unmet need for houses.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7420

Received: 11/04/2019

Respondent: Dr Kuldip Sule

Representation:

See full text below

Full text:

I am writing regarding the main modification consultation of North Herts Local Plan's for 2100 houses around Cockernhoe and Country view.
Residents of Hertfordshire are being advised that these houses are necessary for the unmet housing need of Luton.
There has been a lot of work done by local residents recently particularly Reg Norgan , David Doorman and Carolyn Cottier on whether this really is the case. I believe they have also written to you with their figures which show that this is not the case.
Luton is currently building houses and flats in Napier Park as well as other areas, which accommodates their need.
There is no longer an unmet need for Luton, therefore North Herts should not be looking at these precious green belts areas for development for Luton.
The noise population is something that has already been raised in my previous letters of objection as well as the wildlife preservation.
The lack of infrastructure, particularly by way of roads to Luton and the motorway I have previously mentioned too. It is already dreadful without these 2100 houses.
I hope that North Herts will for once and all stop this idea of building houses in this area and allow residents of Luton and North Herts to enjoy this beautiful countryside, especially when Luton does not have an unmet need for houses.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7478

Received: 03/03/2019

Respondent: Mr David Dorman

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 acilitate 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: 7489

Received: 05/03/2019

Respondent: Mr David Wheatley

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7500

Received: 03/03/2019

Respondent: Ms Ann Adlem

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7514

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Mr George Webb

Representation:

See full text below

Full text:

Examination of Modification MM023 - Policy SP5 Countryside and the Green Belt;
Examination of Modification MM083 - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2, EL3 - to the east of Luton;
Examination of ED87A - Submission on Green Belt by Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers on behalf of Save Our Green Belt 25 January 2018;
Examination of ED143 - Countryside and the Green Belt - the Green Belt Review and approach to safeguarded land;
Examination of ED161 - Green Belt Review by North Herts District Council in September 2018

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENTS

1) Introductory Comments

The fundamental objections raised concerning the above documents are:
* The vital question of the concept of 'Openness' in relation to the Green Belt.
* The flawed review by NHDC of the Green Belt in September 2018 (ED161) where 'Openness' is scarcely mentioned and which also fails to study the 'harm' arising from potentially releasing Green Belt land for development
* The relevance of these points to the proposed building on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe to meet the so-called unmet housing need arising from within Luton.

The NHDC Local Plan scarcely mentions 'Openness' in any of its commentaries about the Green Belt and also not in ED143 of 2016 which was the original NHDC detailed document which studied the Green Belt in depth. Furthermore, there is also very little mention of 'Openness' in the Modification documents listed above.
Evidence Document ED87A introduced the vitally important concept of 'Openness' in a paper submitted by Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers in January 2018. This cited case law as will be explained below.
This led to a review by NHDC of the Green Belt in ED161 in September 2018 (fieldwork undertaken between June and August) which further escalated the importance of the Green Belt in the area east of Luton around Cockernhoe. Even then in this revised Green Belt Review, the only mentions of 'Openness' are to acknowledge the paper submitted in ED87A through a cursory comment in the introduction; it seems that NHDC really doesn't understand the significance of 'Openness' in relation to the Green Belt.
Furthermore, we contend that the NHDC Green Belt review of September 2018 was flawed. Despite awarding even more protection status to the Green Belt around Cockernhoe, the review fails to study 'harm' resulting from building on Green Belt land.
It may also be significant that this review was carried out by NHDC themselves with no input at all from external consultants; this contrasts significantly with the approach taken by neighbouring Welwyn/Hatfield District Council as will be explained below.
Despite the re-grading of the Green belt around Cockernhoe to an even higher status of 'significant'. NHDC persists in its quest to build on this Green Belt land to meet so-called 'unmet housing needs' arising from Luton.

2) The Background to 'Openness'

According to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) documentation: "The fundamental aim of the Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; and the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence".

'Openness' is thus a fundamental cornerstone of Green Belt policy, though it has never been particularly well defined by governments in the NPPF documentation/guidance. Up until recently planners have viewed 'openness' as primarily a spatial designation, rather than a landscape designation, but there has been no clear indication about a visual component. Indeed 'harm' to 'openness' can be a vitally important element to the 'other harm' that local authorities have to assess when submitting proposals to build on the Green Belt.

It is clear in the NPPF guidelines that local authorities should regard construction of new buildings on Green Belt land as inappropriate except in specific circumstances in connection with the existing use of the land for e.g. outdoor sport, recreation, allotments etc.... as long as those facilities preserve the 'openness' of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. Also allowed is limited infilling or partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land (e.g. farm buildings), but such a development must not have a greater impact on the 'openness' of the Green Belt than the existing development or not cause substantial harm to the 'openness' of the Green Belt.

Over recent years there have been a number of legal cases brought by people seeking to protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development. The significance of two recent cases in the Court of Appeal is that they provide some form of template on 'openness' that local authority planners must follow.

The two recent relevant cases are Turner v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government of May 2016; and Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) Ltd v North Yorkshire County Council of March 2018.

Without going into huge detail, the Turner case was an appeal by the plaintiffs to overturn local authority refusals to grant planning permission on Green Belt land. The Court of Appeal upheld the refusals.

In the Samuel Smith case, the appeal was against the local planning authority which had granted planning permission for a development on Green Belt land and the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal and thus refused the development. The Judges' ruling established that an assessment of a proposed development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt includes consideration of the impact of the proposed development upon the visual dimension of 'openness' as well as the spatial dimension of 'openness'.

The Simonicity legal blog of March 2018 succinctly captured the essence of this ruling. He wrote:

Essentially it means that: "the effect of a particular development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt cannot properly be gauged merely by its two-dimensional or three-dimensional presence on the site in question - the very fact of its being there - without taking into account the effects it will have on the openness of the Green Belt in the eyes of the viewer.

To exclude visual impact, as a matter of principle, from a consideration of the likely effects of development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt would be artificial and unrealistic. A realistic assessment will often have to include the likely perceived effects on 'openness', if any, as well as the spatial effects. Whether, in the individual circumstances of a particular case, there are likely to be visual as well as spatial effects on the 'openness' of the Green Belt, and, if so, whether those effects are likely to be harmful or benign, will be for the decision-maker to judge. But the need for those judgments to be exercised is, in my view, inherent in the policy."

"In my view, therefore, when the development under consideration is within one of the five NPPF purposes and is likely to have visual effects within the Green Belt, the policy implicitly requires the decision-maker to consider how those visual effects bear on the question of whether the development would "preserve the 'openness' of the Green Belt". Where that planning judgment is not exercised by the decision-maker, effect will not be given to the policy. This will amount to a misunderstanding of the policy, and thus its misapplication, which is a failure to have regard to a material consideration, and an error of law."

(https://simonicity.com/2018/03/30/green-belt-developments).

To put it even more succinctly Zack Simons, Planning Barrister from the Landmark Chambers explains that:

* Visual impact of a development may be an aspect of Green Belt 'openness'
* Applying the NPPF purposes will mean an assessment will have to be made on the likely 'perceived' effects of 'openness', if any, as well as the spatial effects
* Whether there will be visual as well as spatial effects on 'openness' depends on the facts and will be for the decision-maker to judge
* But the NPPF policy 'requires' the decision-maker to reach a judgement on that question one way or another. Focusing only on the spatial aspects of built development may be a legal error.
* 'Preserve' in the NPPF policy does not mean leave entirely unchanged. It means avoid 'harm' to 'openness'

Finally, the Government has indicated since 2013 that unmet housing need alone is not sufficient to amount to very special circumstances - a view that seems unlikely to change.

3) The Green Belt in the area around Cockernhoe

Therefore, it seems that the visual impact of 'openness' in the land to the east of Luton around Cockernhoe is now vitally important as Court of Appeal case law has decreed.

Nowhere in the original assessment of the potential developments on Green Belt land has NHDC considered 'openness' and from that 'harm to openness'.

For NHDC to ignore 'openness' is perhaps surprising especially given that their own consultants Peter Brett & Associates flagged this up most comprehensively and critically in their June 2016 Luton HMA and Site Selection Assessment Report - Critical Assessment of Site Selection.

In describing the land area around Cockernhoe to the east of Luton the report said:

"The eastern boundary of the built up area is generally well defined by a strong wide tree belt, in places supplemented by linear open space. This is an enduring boundary along a well-established landscape feature, which also makes a very important visual contribution to the containment of the built up area (hence reducing the sense of encroachment of the built- up area into the countryside); it also safeguards the countryside from the encroachment of Luton beyond the existing well-defined edge. Overall the northern part of the parcel (which is the part considered for this study) has a well-defined principally rural character and is free of encroachment from inappropriate development."

It goes on to say in relation to NHDC's assessment of the area around Cockernhoe for Green Belt purposes in terms of 'openness', that:

"Part of the assessment criteria for 'openness' uses the basis of relationship to built-up areas as the basis for the assessment; for example, if a site is bounded on two sides by development it would be deemed to contribute less to 'openness'. However, this is too simplistic; much depends upon the nature of the site and the boundaries of the adjoining development. The opposite could be said to be the case; if that site were to be largely free of development it may provide a very important perception of 'openness' which is enhanced as a result of its juxtaposition with development; or it may be that those adjoining built up edges are well contained by woodland for example such that the influence of the urban areas is contained. The south eastern part of parcel 212a (proposed allocation site EL3) is a case in point; even though there is a clear visual relationship between the edge of Luton and southern edge of Cockernhoe, there is a very clear sense of 'openness' between the two due to the undeveloped open nature of the arable land that separates them;

It adds later: "The distinction between the urban area and countryside is very pronounced with productive agricultural uses extending right up to the urban boundary with some areas having a surprising sense of rurality and remoteness despite the close proximity of Luton."

It continues: "It is our view that this area has very significant landscape and visual constraints and that the adverse effects of medium to large scale development (which is what is being proposed) will have a fundamental effect on the character of the area. This is reflected in a previous (The Landscape Partnership) study which identifies it as having a Low capacity for medium /large scale development (note - there is no 'No capacity' category).

"In this context it raises the question of whether there may be areas around other parts of Luton's periphery (i.e. outside North Herts) that are less sensitive and which have a greater capacity to accommodate significant growth".
In its conclusions to NHDC, the report states, inter alia:

"Whether if Luton is to be expanded, development on the part of its fringe within North Herts is an appropriate way of addressing the need in comparison with the potential role of other parts of Luton's fringe.

"That said, it is a striking feature of where the Council (NHDC) has got to that the scale of housing development in North Herts District to contribute to Luton's needs is presented as an 'offer', and is based on the capacity of sites put forward by promoters driven by ownerships primarily.
"This is a fundamentally different approach from one of determining the level of provision as part of a strategic and cooperative (though inevitably iterative) approach with all parties involved, and then seeking the best ways to make that provision having regard to all relevant considerations. The next step based on this position, and on an understanding of how the fringe of Luton performs, together with proper aspirations for what is wanted in place making terms, might then have been to establish the framework of an urban extension of Luton with an integrated structure for development, green infrastructure and connectivity set out, and into which the respective landowners and developers could work up their proposals.
"The approach the Council has followed is set out for instance in the 'Housing and Settlement Hierarchy Background Paper', and it is an approach that leaves the Local Plan process open to the investigation and promotion of other sites by developers who may or may not have come forward yet, and, in particular, to future claims by Luton Borough Council and others no doubt, that North Herts should do more.
"This report addresses this context and these potential consequences in two ways:
It seeks to demonstrate through an overview of setting, environmental constraints, landscape character and Green Belt considerations, given that there are natural limits to the amount of development that can be accommodated in an acceptable form as the expansion of Luton; and
It notes that within the acceptable limits of the expansion of Luton in this direction there may be other land that according to the criteria used could be developed that may not have been adequately investigated and for which clear reasons have not been stated as to why the land is not included in the Local Plan.

Inherent in this criticism by the consultants is that NHDC has not realistically sought with other neighbouring local authorities - in this case Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council - to work with them to assess properly whether they could accommodate some or all of the proposed housing that NHDC proposes to build on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe to meet what is now seen as a scarcely justifiable unmet housing need arising from within Luton.

Whilst NHDC has for sure signed Statements of Common Ground with all its neighbouring local authorities these have all the hallmarks of box-ticking exercises in relation to the Duty to Co-operate under the Localism Act. None of the signed documents carry any substantive comment about how NHDC worked with these other authorities to assess whether other areas in their own jurisdictions could provide the space for the extra homes required by Luton. All the documents convey is - as Peter Brett & Associates put it - is that NHDC has made an offer to build these homes; an offer which the other authorities have, not surprisingly, accepted at face value and which subsequently has become inherent in the planning documentation across all the neighbouring local authorities.

It does seem increasingly likely that NHDC is particularly desperate to build these homes around Cockernhoe on protected Green Belt land. One has to ask why this is the case, given that 'openness' and 'harm to openness' have not featured at all in their assessments, and that the area in question is graded by NHDC itself as making a substantial contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt.

4) The flawed Green Belt review published by NHDC in September 2018

The original 2016 Green Belt designation for the area to around Cockernhoe carried out by NHDC had classified the area as making a 'significant contribution' to the purposes of the Green Belt in the two most important of the five key national NPPF guidelines. The NHDC study found that this area's significant contribution was measured against the two fundamental purposes, namely 1 and 3 below of the five NPPF purposes:
1.To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
2.To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
3.To assist in saving the countryside from encroachment;
4.To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns, and;
5.To assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Unfortunately, the end result of this study, 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 purposes, (purpose number 5 was clearly not relevant here), was downgraded to what is termed a MODERATE overall contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to its circumstances, were not rated as highly.

At the time this downgrading was criticised by Peter Brett & Associates in June 2016 who stated:

"The overall assessment that the parcel in the area adjoining Luton makes a 'moderate overall contribution' appears to be based on the premise that if land is found to make a significant contribution to only some of the purposes, then it performs less well in overall terms (this is a downside of numerical scoring systems). Green Belt purposes are of the same importance (there is no 'weighting') and if only one purpose is of high importance then the parcel is therefore making an important contribution to the Green Belt. On the basis of our observations, this parcel makes a 'significant' contribution to Green Belt purposes."

As a direct result of the paper on 'openness' presented to the Inspector on behalf of Save our Green Belt (ED87A), NHDC carried out the September 2018 review of its Green Belt assessments. Their review reversed and upgraded the Cockernhoe area from making a modest overall contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt to the higher rating of making a significant overall contribution.

It should be noted that in coming to this decision it took NHDC 2.5 years to follow the recommendations of their consultants Peter Brett & Associates in their June 2016 report to NHDC.

However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because, they say, 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 so-called 'unmet needs' arising from within Luton.

It may be significant - given the criticism levelled at NHDC in their first Green Belt study of 2016 - that NHDC carried out their September 2018 Green Belt review themselves and it has not been critiqued or commented on by any outside consultants such as Peter Brett & Associates.
Fundamentally, this September 2018 Green Belt review has failed to consider the potential 'harm' that would arise to the Green Belt from the planned development around Cockernhoe.
It is instructive here to compare the approach of NHDC to that of neighbouring local authority Welwyn & Hatfield (W&H). In the W&H Local Plan examination, the Inspector asked the authority to identify which parts of the Borough's Green Belt are 'most essential' to its function and thus critical to remain as Green Belt.
W&H appointed consultants (Landuse.co.uk) to carry out the same type of task as was done by NHDC to ascertain which areas of Green Belt were deemed as making Significant or Moderate contributions in terms of Green Belt purposes. But then W&H went a stage further. This report "Welwyn Hatfield Green Belt Study Stage 3" was completed in March 2019.
It is notable, when reading the W&H Green Belt Study, how much credence is given in the report to 'openness', to a discussion of recent case law and definitions of 'openness'. This level of detail including land and aerial photographs of Green Belt land parcels contrasts most strongly with the scant and incomplete approach taken by NHDC.
The report from Landuse.co.uk stated that for land to be assessed as 'most essential' for Green Belt purposes there must be a very high level of 'harm' associated with its release from the Green Belt.
Areas of very high 'harm' were identified where there is:

* A particularly significant contribution to a single one of the first four national NPPF Green Belt purposes.

* A significant contribution to more than one of the first four national Green Belt purposes is judged to cause 'very high harm' and be 'most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

* A particularly strong impact on the defined Green Belt boundary, or on the integrity of the wider Green Belt.

The W&H report studied 95 parcels of land within the Green Belt. Comparing the application of Purposes 1 and 3 to these Green Belt parcels, (the same as for Cockernhoe which achieved a significant contribution to both purposes), we see that none of them achieved anything more than a 'limited' or 'no contribution to Purpose 1 (checking the sprawl of large built up areas).
Against Purpose 3 (to assist the safeguarding the countryside from encroachment) 71 of the parcels received a 'significant contribution' grading; the remaining 24 getting only a 'limited' or 'no contribution' rating.
(NB for purposes of clarity it should be noted that several of these parcels of W&H Green Belt land scored highly on other NPPF purposes - by virtue of different landscapes and circumstances.)
The report then considered the assessment of 'harm' to the Green Belt if these parcels were released for development. In this instance the 95 parcels of land were subdivided down into 184 smaller parcels for examination. Sixty-one of these parcels had a 'very high' or' high' harm rating (20 'very high' and 41 as 'high').
The final element of the report then classified 16 of those sites as having a 'most essential' Green Belt rating. One of these is the area around Woolmer Green which is close to Knebworth in North Hertfordshire.
The Woolmer Green/Knebworth Green Belt parcel is in many ways similar to the land around Cockernhoe and thus it is useful for comparison.
The Woolmer Green area has a Green Belt gap between it and Knebworth of only 400 metres across undeveloped, visually open farmland. The gaps in the north-south settlement chain in W&H are narrow, so land which preserves the local landscape identity by forming an undeveloped countryside gap is considered very important in Green Belt terms and therefore designated as 'most essential'.
This is very similar to the narrow strip of land between the Cockernhoe area in North Hertfordshire and the Luton town boundary.
But tellingly, the Green Belt around Cockernhoe has a significant contribution against both Purposes 1 and 3 so making this area even stronger than the land in W&H around Woolmer Green/Knebworth (which rated as significant against only Purpose 3) and which is described as 'most essential' to the purposes of the Green Belt.
Paragraph 136 of the NPPF states quite clearly that 'once established Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified."
Para 144 states: When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. 'Very special circumstances' will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm resulting from the proposal, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

'Harm' in the Green Belt context is therefore vitally important. NHDC should have considered 'harm' in its slapdash review of September 2018. If there is to be any consistency in local planning and if NHDC had used the detailed analysis employed by the W&H consultancy there is little doubt that the area to the east of Luton would be designated as suffering considerable 'harm' to the Green belt and therefore it should be re-graded as ' most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

Furthermore, Central Bedfordshire Council and Luton Borough Council commissioned a joint study into the Green Belt (Central Bedfordshire Green Belt Study Stage 3) of January 2018. This covered 80 sites in Central Bedfordshire and 8 sites in the Luton Borough area and was carried out by the same consultancy (landuse.co.uk) and to the same level of detail. So it also assessed which parcels of land were regarded as potentially suffering from ' harm' to the Green Belt if released for development and from that gave a grading as to how many of those parcels would be deemed as 'most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

Conclusions

We contend that:

* NHDC should have followed the comprehensive approach of three of its neighbouring local authorities - and commissioned detailed and independent studies into the 'openness' of its Green Belt areas earmarked for development and from that identified which parcels of land would suffer from 'harm' and hence assessing needs as to how essential the land is to Green Belt purposes.
* We are confident that if this approach had been followed, the Green Belt area around Cockernhoe would have been designated as likely to suffer 'very high harm' from potential development and would have been designated as 'most essential' for Green Belt purposes.
* We believe that the September 2018 Green Belt Review carried out by NHDC was thin, selective and nowhere near detailed enough - even though it regraded the Cockernhoe Green Belt area as making a 'significant overall contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt'.
* We argue that the Inspector should have identified these shortcomings as the Inspector examining the Welwyn & Hatfield Local Plan has done and required a complete re-assessment of the Green Belt plans in North Hertfordshire to be carried out properly.
* There needs to be consistency in local planning and its methodology and Inspectors have to be cognisant of what is going on in their neighbouring authorities' areas of examination.
* Fundamentally, we contend that the draft NHDC Local Plan, its modifications and Evidence Documents examined in this representation reveals that this aspect of the Plan is unsound and should be dismissed.

* Finally - is it too fanciful to suggest that there appears to be strong grounds for an independent inquiry into how NHDC has conducted itself in relation to its almost obsessive desire to build large numbers of homes on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe. Also, why it continues to promote this policy, despite many areas of investigation on a variety of different topics which have been documented by representations and which all point to deep flaws in the Council's approach. Everything points to NHDC desperately seeking to massage its work, its statistics and its whole approach to justify a pre-planned and pre-determined outcome with no consideration for the well-being of the communities of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green, as well as the sanctity and transparency of the robust planning process that is required and the protection of the Green Belt which its residents/constituents in this part of North Hertfordshire so earnestly desire.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7518

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Mr Neil Jay

Representation:

See full text below

Full text:

Examination of Modification MM023 - Policy SP5 Countryside and the Green Belt;
Examination of Modification MM083 - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2, EL3 - to the east of Luton;
Examination of ED87A - Submission on Green Belt by Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers on behalf of Save Our Green Belt 25 January 2018;
Examination of ED143 - Countryside and the Green Belt - the Green Belt Review and approach to safeguarded land;
Examination of ED161 - Green Belt Review by North Herts District Council in September 2018

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENTS

1) Introductory Comments

The fundamental objections raised concerning the above documents are:
* The vital question of the concept of 'Openness' in relation to the Green Belt.
* The flawed review by NHDC of the Green Belt in September 2018 (ED161) where 'Openness' is scarcely mentioned and which also fails to study the 'harm' arising from potentially releasing Green Belt land for development
* The relevance of these points to the proposed building on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe to meet the so-called unmet housing need arising from within Luton.

The NHDC Local Plan scarcely mentions 'Openness' in any of its commentaries about the Green Belt and also not in ED143 of 2016 which was the original NHDC detailed document which studied the Green Belt in depth. Furthermore, there is also very little mention of 'Openness' in the Modification documents listed above.
Evidence Document ED87A introduced the vitally important concept of 'Openness' in a paper submitted by Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers in January 2018. This cited case law as will be explained below.
This led to a review by NHDC of the Green Belt in ED161 in September 2018 (fieldwork undertaken between June and August) which further escalated the importance of the Green Belt in the area east of Luton around Cockernhoe. Even then in this revised Green Belt Review, the only mentions of 'Openness' are to acknowledge the paper submitted in ED87A through a cursory comment in the introduction; it seems that NHDC really doesn't understand the significance of 'Openness' in relation to the Green Belt.
Furthermore, we contend that the NHDC Green Belt review of September 2018 was flawed. Despite awarding even more protection status to the Green Belt around Cockernhoe, the review fails to study 'harm' resulting from building on Green Belt land.
It may also be significant that this review was carried out by NHDC themselves with no input at all from external consultants; this contrasts significantly with the approach taken by neighbouring Welwyn/Hatfield District Council as will be explained below.
Despite the re-grading of the Green belt around Cockernhoe to an even higher status of 'significant'. NHDC persists in its quest to build on this Green Belt land to meet so-called 'unmet housing needs' arising from Luton.

2) The Background to 'Openness'

According to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) documentation: "The fundamental aim of the Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; and the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence".

'Openness' is thus a fundamental cornerstone of Green Belt policy, though it has never been particularly well defined by governments in the NPPF documentation/guidance. Up until recently planners have viewed 'openness' as primarily a spatial designation, rather than a landscape designation, but there has been no clear indication about a visual component. Indeed 'harm' to 'openness' can be a vitally important element to the 'other harm' that local authorities have to assess when submitting proposals to build on the Green Belt.

It is clear in the NPPF guidelines that local authorities should regard construction of new buildings on Green Belt land as inappropriate except in specific circumstances in connection with the existing use of the land for e.g. outdoor sport, recreation, allotments etc.... as long as those facilities preserve the 'openness' of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. Also allowed is limited infilling or partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land (e.g. farm buildings), but such a development must not have a greater impact on the 'openness' of the Green Belt than the existing development or not cause substantial harm to the 'openness' of the Green Belt.

Over recent years there have been a number of legal cases brought by people seeking to protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development. The significance of two recent cases in the Court of Appeal is that they provide some form of template on 'openness' that local authority planners must follow.

The two recent relevant cases are Turner v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government of May 2016; and Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) Ltd v North Yorkshire County Council of March 2018.

Without going into huge detail, the Turner case was an appeal by the plaintiffs to overturn local authority refusals to grant planning permission on Green Belt land. The Court of Appeal upheld the refusals.

In the Samuel Smith case, the appeal was against the local planning authority which had granted planning permission for a development on Green Belt land and the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal and thus refused the development. The Judges' ruling established that an assessment of a proposed development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt includes consideration of the impact of the proposed development upon the visual dimension of 'openness' as well as the spatial dimension of 'openness'.

The Simonicity legal blog of March 2018 succinctly captured the essence of this ruling. He wrote:

Essentially it means that: "the effect of a particular development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt cannot properly be gauged merely by its two-dimensional or three-dimensional presence on the site in question - the very fact of its being there - without taking into account the effects it will have on the openness of the Green Belt in the eyes of the viewer.

To exclude visual impact, as a matter of principle, from a consideration of the likely effects of development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt would be artificial and unrealistic. A realistic assessment will often have to include the likely perceived effects on 'openness', if any, as well as the spatial effects. Whether, in the individual circumstances of a particular case, there are likely to be visual as well as spatial effects on the 'openness' of the Green Belt, and, if so, whether those effects are likely to be harmful or benign, will be for the decision-maker to judge. But the need for those judgments to be exercised is, in my view, inherent in the policy."

"In my view, therefore, when the development under consideration is within one of the five NPPF purposes and is likely to have visual effects within the Green Belt, the policy implicitly requires the decision-maker to consider how those visual effects bear on the question of whether the development would "preserve the 'openness' of the Green Belt". Where that planning judgment is not exercised by the decision-maker, effect will not be given to the policy. This will amount to a misunderstanding of the policy, and thus its misapplication, which is a failure to have regard to a material consideration, and an error of law."

(https://simonicity.com/2018/03/30/green-belt-developments).

To put it even more succinctly Zack Simons, Planning Barrister from the Landmark Chambers explains that:

* Visual impact of a development may be an aspect of Green Belt 'openness'
* Applying the NPPF purposes will mean an assessment will have to be made on the likely 'perceived' effects of 'openness', if any, as well as the spatial effects
* Whether there will be visual as well as spatial effects on 'openness' depends on the facts and will be for the decision-maker to judge
* But the NPPF policy 'requires' the decision-maker to reach a judgement on that question one way or another. Focusing only on the spatial aspects of built development may be a legal error.
* 'Preserve' in the NPPF policy does not mean leave entirely unchanged. It means avoid 'harm' to 'openness'

Finally, the Government has indicated since 2013 that unmet housing need alone is not sufficient to amount to very special circumstances - a view that seems unlikely to change.

3) The Green Belt in the area around Cockernhoe

Therefore, it seems that the visual impact of 'openness' in the land to the east of Luton around Cockernhoe is now vitally important as Court of Appeal case law has decreed.

Nowhere in the original assessment of the potential developments on Green Belt land has NHDC considered 'openness' and from that 'harm to openness'.

For NHDC to ignore 'openness' is perhaps surprising especially given that their own consultants Peter Brett & Associates flagged this up most comprehensively and critically in their June 2016 Luton HMA and Site Selection Assessment Report - Critical Assessment of Site Selection.

In describing the land area around Cockernhoe to the east of Luton the report said:

"The eastern boundary of the built up area is generally well defined by a strong wide tree belt, in places supplemented by linear open space. This is an enduring boundary along a well-established landscape feature, which also makes a very important visual contribution to the containment of the built up area (hence reducing the sense of encroachment of the built- up area into the countryside); it also safeguards the countryside from the encroachment of Luton beyond the existing well-defined edge. Overall the northern part of the parcel (which is the part considered for this study) has a well-defined principally rural character and is free of encroachment from inappropriate development."

It goes on to say in relation to NHDC's assessment of the area around Cockernhoe for Green Belt purposes in terms of 'openness', that:

"Part of the assessment criteria for 'openness' uses the basis of relationship to built-up areas as the basis for the assessment; for example, if a site is bounded on two sides by development it would be deemed to contribute less to 'openness'. However, this is too simplistic; much depends upon the nature of the site and the boundaries of the adjoining development. The opposite could be said to be the case; if that site were to be largely free of development it may provide a very important perception of 'openness' which is enhanced as a result of its juxtaposition with development; or it may be that those adjoining built up edges are well contained by woodland for example such that the influence of the urban areas is contained. The south eastern part of parcel 212a (proposed allocation site EL3) is a case in point; even though there is a clear visual relationship between the edge of Luton and southern edge of Cockernhoe, there is a very clear sense of 'openness' between the two due to the undeveloped open nature of the arable land that separates them;

It adds later: "The distinction between the urban area and countryside is very pronounced with productive agricultural uses extending right up to the urban boundary with some areas having a surprising sense of rurality and remoteness despite the close proximity of Luton."

It continues: "It is our view that this area has very significant landscape and visual constraints and that the adverse effects of medium to large scale development (which is what is being proposed) will have a fundamental effect on the character of the area. This is reflected in a previous (The Landscape Partnership) study which identifies it as having a Low capacity for medium /large scale development (note - there is no 'No capacity' category).

"In this context it raises the question of whether there may be areas around other parts of Luton's periphery (i.e. outside North Herts) that are less sensitive and which have a greater capacity to accommodate significant growth".
In its conclusions to NHDC, the report states, inter alia:

"Whether if Luton is to be expanded, development on the part of its fringe within North Herts is an appropriate way of addressing the need in comparison with the potential role of other parts of Luton's fringe.

"That said, it is a striking feature of where the Council (NHDC) has got to that the scale of housing development in North Herts District to contribute to Luton's needs is presented as an 'offer', and is based on the capacity of sites put forward by promoters driven by ownerships primarily.
"This is a fundamentally different approach from one of determining the level of provision as part of a strategic and cooperative (though inevitably iterative) approach with all parties involved, and then seeking the best ways to make that provision having regard to all relevant considerations. The next step based on this position, and on an understanding of how the fringe of Luton performs, together with proper aspirations for what is wanted in place making terms, might then have been to establish the framework of an urban extension of Luton with an integrated structure for development, green infrastructure and connectivity set out, and into which the respective landowners and developers could work up their proposals.
"The approach the Council has followed is set out for instance in the 'Housing and Settlement Hierarchy Background Paper', and it is an approach that leaves the Local Plan process open to the investigation and promotion of other sites by developers who may or may not have come forward yet, and, in particular, to future claims by Luton Borough Council and others no doubt, that North Herts should do more.
"This report addresses this context and these potential consequences in two ways:
It seeks to demonstrate through an overview of setting, environmental constraints, landscape character and Green Belt considerations, given that there are natural limits to the amount of development that can be accommodated in an acceptable form as the expansion of Luton; and
It notes that within the acceptable limits of the expansion of Luton in this direction there may be other land that according to the criteria used could be developed that may not have been adequately investigated and for which clear reasons have not been stated as to why the land is not included in the Local Plan.

Inherent in this criticism by the consultants is that NHDC has not realistically sought with other neighbouring local authorities - in this case Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council - to work with them to assess properly whether they could accommodate some or all of the proposed housing that NHDC proposes to build on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe to meet what is now seen as a scarcely justifiable unmet housing need arising from within Luton.

Whilst NHDC has for sure signed Statements of Common Ground with all its neighbouring local authorities these have all the hallmarks of box-ticking exercises in relation to the Duty to Co-operate under the Localism Act. None of the signed documents carry any substantive comment about how NHDC worked with these other authorities to assess whether other areas in their own jurisdictions could provide the space for the extra homes required by Luton. All the documents convey is - as Peter Brett & Associates put it - is that NHDC has made an offer to build these homes; an offer which the other authorities have, not surprisingly, accepted at face value and which subsequently has become inherent in the planning documentation across all the neighbouring local authorities.

It does seem increasingly likely that NHDC is particularly desperate to build these homes around Cockernhoe on protected Green Belt land. One has to ask why this is the case, given that 'openness' and 'harm to openness' have not featured at all in their assessments, and that the area in question is graded by NHDC itself as making a substantial contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt.

4) The flawed Green Belt review published by NHDC in September 2018

The original 2016 Green Belt designation for the area to around Cockernhoe carried out by NHDC had classified the area as making a 'significant contribution' to the purposes of the Green Belt in the two most important of the five key national NPPF guidelines. The NHDC study found that this area's significant contribution was measured against the two fundamental purposes, namely 1 and 3 below of the five NPPF purposes:
1.To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
2.To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
3.To assist in saving the countryside from encroachment;
4.To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns, and;
5.To assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Unfortunately, the end result of this study, 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 purposes, (purpose number 5 was clearly not relevant here), was downgraded to what is termed a MODERATE overall contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to its circumstances, were not rated as highly.

At the time this downgrading was criticised by Peter Brett & Associates in June 2016 who stated:

"The overall assessment that the parcel in the area adjoining Luton makes a 'moderate overall contribution' appears to be based on the premise that if land is found to make a significant contribution to only some of the purposes, then it performs less well in overall terms (this is a downside of numerical scoring systems). Green Belt purposes are of the same importance (there is no 'weighting') and if only one purpose is of high importance then the parcel is therefore making an important contribution to the Green Belt. On the basis of our observations, this parcel makes a 'significant' contribution to Green Belt purposes."

As a direct result of the paper on 'openness' presented to the Inspector on behalf of Save our Green Belt (ED87A), NHDC carried out the September 2018 review of its Green Belt assessments. Their review reversed and upgraded the Cockernhoe area from making a modest overall contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt to the higher rating of making a significant overall contribution.

It should be noted that in coming to this decision it took NHDC 2.5 years to follow the recommendations of their consultants Peter Brett & Associates in their June 2016 report to NHDC.

However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because, they say, 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 so-called 'unmet needs' arising from within Luton.

It may be significant - given the criticism levelled at NHDC in their first Green Belt study of 2016 - that NHDC carried out their September 2018 Green Belt review themselves and it has not been critiqued or commented on by any outside consultants such as Peter Brett & Associates.
Fundamentally, this September 2018 Green Belt review has failed to consider the potential 'harm' that would arise to the Green Belt from the planned development around Cockernhoe.
It is instructive here to compare the approach of NHDC to that of neighbouring local authority Welwyn & Hatfield (W&H). In the W&H Local Plan examination, the Inspector asked the authority to identify which parts of the Borough's Green Belt are 'most essential' to its function and thus critical to remain as Green Belt.
W&H appointed consultants (Landuse.co.uk) to carry out the same type of task as was done by NHDC to ascertain which areas of Green Belt were deemed as making Significant or Moderate contributions in terms of Green Belt purposes. But then W&H went a stage further. This report "Welwyn Hatfield Green Belt Study Stage 3" was completed in March 2019.
It is notable, when reading the W&H Green Belt Study, how much credence is given in the report to 'openness', to a discussion of recent case law and definitions of 'openness'. This level of detail including land and aerial photographs of Green Belt land parcels contrasts most strongly with the scant and incomplete approach taken by NHDC.
The report from Landuse.co.uk stated that for land to be assessed as 'most essential' for Green Belt purposes there must be a very high level of 'harm' associated with its release from the Green Belt.
Areas of very high 'harm' were identified where there is:

* A particularly significant contribution to a single one of the first four national NPPF Green Belt purposes.

* A significant contribution to more than one of the first four national Green Belt purposes is judged to cause 'very high harm' and be 'most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

* A particularly strong impact on the defined Green Belt boundary, or on the integrity of the wider Green Belt.

The W&H report studied 95 parcels of land within the Green Belt. Comparing the application of Purposes 1 and 3 to these Green Belt parcels, (the same as for Cockernhoe which achieved a significant contribution to both purposes), we see that none of them achieved anything more than a 'limited' or 'no contribution to Purpose 1 (checking the sprawl of large built up areas).
Against Purpose 3 (to assist the safeguarding the countryside from encroachment) 71 of the parcels received a 'significant contribution' grading; the remaining 24 getting only a 'limited' or 'no contribution' rating.
(NB for purposes of clarity it should be noted that several of these parcels of W&H Green Belt land scored highly on other NPPF purposes - by virtue of different landscapes and circumstances.)
The report then considered the assessment of 'harm' to the Green Belt if these parcels were released for development. In this instance the 95 parcels of land were subdivided down into 184 smaller parcels for examination. Sixty-one of these parcels had a 'very high' or' high' harm rating (20 'very high' and 41 as 'high').
The final element of the report then classified 16 of those sites as having a 'most essential' Green Belt rating. One of these is the area around Woolmer Green which is close to Knebworth in North Hertfordshire.
The Woolmer Green/Knebworth Green Belt parcel is in many ways similar to the land around Cockernhoe and thus it is useful for comparison.
The Woolmer Green area has a Green Belt gap between it and Knebworth of only 400 metres across undeveloped, visually open farmland. The gaps in the north-south settlement chain in W&H are narrow, so land which preserves the local landscape identity by forming an undeveloped countryside gap is considered very important in Green Belt terms and therefore designated as 'most essential'.
This is very similar to the narrow strip of land between the Cockernhoe area in North Hertfordshire and the Luton town boundary.
But tellingly, the Green Belt around Cockernhoe has a significant contribution against both Purposes 1 and 3 so making this area even stronger than the land in W&H around Woolmer Green/Knebworth (which rated as significant against only Purpose 3) and which is described as 'most essential' to the purposes of the Green Belt.
Paragraph 136 of the NPPF states quite clearly that 'once established Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified."
Para 144 states: When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. 'Very special circumstances' will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm resulting from the proposal, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

'Harm' in the Green Belt context is therefore vitally important. NHDC should have considered 'harm' in its slapdash review of September 2018. If there is to be any consistency in local planning and if NHDC had used the detailed analysis employed by the W&H consultancy there is little doubt that the area to the east of Luton would be designated as suffering considerable 'harm' to the Green belt and therefore it should be re-graded as ' most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

Furthermore, Central Bedfordshire Council and Luton Borough Council commissioned a joint study into the Green Belt (Central Bedfordshire Green Belt Study Stage 3) of January 2018. This covered 80 sites in Central Bedfordshire and 8 sites in the Luton Borough area and was carried out by the same consultancy (landuse.co.uk) and to the same level of detail. So it also assessed which parcels of land were regarded as potentially suffering from ' harm' to the Green Belt if released for development and from that gave a grading as to how many of those parcels would be deemed as 'most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

Conclusions

We contend that:

* NHDC should have followed the comprehensive approach of three of its neighbouring local authorities - and commissioned detailed and independent studies into the 'openness' of its Green Belt areas earmarked for development and from that identified which parcels of land would suffer from 'harm' and hence assessing needs as to how essential the land is to Green Belt purposes.
* We are confident that if this approach had been followed, the Green Belt area around Cockernhoe would have been designated as likely to suffer 'very high harm' from potential development and would have been designated as 'most essential' for Green Belt purposes.
* We believe that the September 2018 Green Belt Review carried out by NHDC was thin, selective and nowhere near detailed enough - even though it regraded the Cockernhoe Green Belt area as making a 'significant overall contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt'.
* We argue that the Inspector should have identified these shortcomings as the Inspector examining the Welwyn & Hatfield Local Plan has done and required a complete re-assessment of the Green Belt plans in North Hertfordshire to be carried out properly.
* There needs to be consistency in local planning and its methodology and Inspectors have to be cognisant of what is going on in their neighbouring authorities' areas of examination.
* Fundamentally, we contend that the draft NHDC Local Plan, its modifications and Evidence Documents examined in this representation reveals that this aspect of the Plan is unsound and should be dismissed.

* Finally - is it too fanciful to suggest that there appears to be strong grounds for an independent inquiry into how NHDC has conducted itself in relation to its almost obsessive desire to build large numbers of homes on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe. Also, why it continues to promote this policy, despite many areas of investigation on a variety of different topics which have been documented by representations and which all point to deep flaws in the Council's approach. Everything points to NHDC desperately seeking to massage its work, its statistics and its whole approach to justify a pre-planned and pre-determined outcome with no consideration for the well-being of the communities of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green, as well as the sanctity and transparency of the robust planning process that is required and the protection of the Green Belt which its residents/constituents in this part of North Hertfordshire so earnestly desire.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7539

Received: 27/02/2019

Respondent: Mrs Jennifer Willis

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, of 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 forever, 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 inpercentage 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: 7550

Received: 26/02/2019

Respondent: Ms Nikki Hamlett

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: 7561

Received: 26/02/2019

Respondent: Ms Karen Jay

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: 7621

Received: 05/03/2019

Respondent: Mrs Corinna Biermann Wheatley

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7635

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Mr Neil Jay

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: 7646

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Mr George Webb

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: 7656

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Ms Karen Jay

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

Examination of Modification MM023 - Policy SP5 Countryside and the Green Belt;
Examination of Modification MM083 - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2, EL3 - to the east of Luton;
Examination of ED87A - Submission on Green Belt by Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers on behalf of Save Our Green Belt 25 January 2018;
Examination of ED143 - Countryside and the Green Belt - the Green Belt Review and approach to safeguarded land;
Examination of ED161 - Green Belt Review by North Herts District Council in September 2018

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENTS

1) Introductory Comments

The fundamental objections raised concerning the above documents are:
* The vital question of the concept of 'Openness' in relation to the Green Belt.
* The flawed review by NHDC of the Green Belt in September 2018 (ED161) where 'Openness' is scarcely mentioned and which also fails to study the 'harm' arising from potentially releasing Green Belt land for development
* The relevance of these points to the proposed building on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe to meet the so-called unmet housing need arising from within Luton.

The NHDC Local Plan scarcely mentions 'Openness' in any of its commentaries about the Green Belt and also not in ED143 of 2016 which was the original NHDC detailed document which studied the Green Belt in depth. Furthermore, there is also very little mention of 'Openness' in the Modification documents listed above.
Evidence Document ED87A introduced the vitally important concept of 'Openness' in a paper submitted by Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers in January 2018. This cited case law as will be explained below.
This led to a review by NHDC of the Green Belt in ED161 in September 2018 (fieldwork undertaken between June and August) which further escalated the importance of the Green Belt in the area east of Luton around Cockernhoe. Even then in this revised Green Belt Review, the only mentions of 'Openness' are to acknowledge the paper submitted in ED87A through a cursory comment in the introduction; it seems that NHDC really doesn't understand the significance of 'Openness' in relation to the Green Belt.
Furthermore, we contend that the NHDC Green Belt review of September 2018 was flawed. Despite awarding even more protection status to the Green Belt around Cockernhoe, the review fails to study 'harm' resulting from building on Green Belt land.
It may also be significant that this review was carried out by NHDC themselves with no input at all from external consultants; this contrasts significantly with the approach taken by neighbouring Welwyn/Hatfield District Council as will be explained below.
Despite the re-grading of the Green belt around Cockernhoe to an even higher status of 'significant'. NHDC persists in its quest to build on this Green Belt land to meet so-called 'unmet housing needs' arising from Luton.

2) The Background to 'Openness'

According to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) documentation: "The fundamental aim of the Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; and the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence".

'Openness' is thus a fundamental cornerstone of Green Belt policy, though it has never been particularly well defined by governments in the NPPF documentation/guidance. Up until recently planners have viewed 'openness' as primarily a spatial designation, rather than a landscape designation, but there has been no clear indication about a visual component. Indeed 'harm' to 'openness' can be a vitally important element to the 'other harm' that local authorities have to assess when submitting proposals to build on the Green Belt.

It is clear in the NPPF guidelines that local authorities should regard construction of new buildings on Green Belt land as inappropriate except in specific circumstances in connection with the existing use of the land for e.g. outdoor sport, recreation, allotments etc.... as long as those facilities preserve the 'openness' of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. Also allowed is limited infilling or partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land (e.g. farm buildings), but such a development must not have a greater impact on the 'openness' of the Green Belt than the existing development or not cause substantial harm to the 'openness' of the Green Belt.

Over recent years there have been a number of legal cases brought by people seeking to protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development. The significance of two recent cases in the Court of Appeal is that they provide some form of template on 'openness' that local authority planners must follow.

The two recent relevant cases are Turner v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government of May 2016; and Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) Ltd v North Yorkshire County Council of March 2018.

Without going into huge detail, the Turner case was an appeal by the plaintiffs to overturn local authority refusals to grant planning permission on Green Belt land. The Court of Appeal upheld the refusals.

In the Samuel Smith case, the appeal was against the local planning authority which had granted planning permission for a development on Green Belt land and the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal and thus refused the development. The Judges' ruling established that an assessment of a proposed development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt includes consideration of the impact of the proposed development upon the visual dimension of 'openness' as well as the spatial dimension of 'openness'.

The Simonicity legal blog of March 2018 succinctly captured the essence of this ruling. He wrote:

Essentially it means that: "the effect of a particular development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt cannot properly be gauged merely by its two-dimensional or three-dimensional presence on the site in question - the very fact of its being there - without taking into account the effects it will have on the openness of the Green Belt in the eyes of the viewer.

To exclude visual impact, as a matter of principle, from a consideration of the likely effects of development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt would be artificial and unrealistic. A realistic assessment will often have to include the likely perceived effects on 'openness', if any, as well as the spatial effects. Whether, in the individual circumstances of a particular case, there are likely to be visual as well as spatial effects on the 'openness' of the Green Belt, and, if so, whether those effects are likely to be harmful or benign, will be for the decision-maker to judge. But the need for those judgments to be exercised is, in my view, inherent in the policy."

"In my view, therefore, when the development under consideration is within one of the five NPPF purposes and is likely to have visual effects within the Green Belt, the policy implicitly requires the decision-maker to consider how those visual effects bear on the question of whether the development would "preserve the 'openness' of the Green Belt". Where that planning judgment is not exercised by the decision-maker, effect will not be given to the policy. This will amount to a misunderstanding of the policy, and thus its misapplication, which is a failure to have regard to a material consideration, and an error of law."

(https://simonicity.com/2018/03/30/green-belt-developments).

To put it even more succinctly Zack Simons, Planning Barrister from the Landmark Chambers explains that:

* Visual impact of a development may be an aspect of Green Belt 'openness'
* Applying the NPPF purposes will mean an assessment will have to be made on the likely 'perceived' effects of 'openness', if any, as well as the spatial effects
* Whether there will be visual as well as spatial effects on 'openness' depends on the facts and will be for the decision-maker to judge
* But the NPPF policy 'requires' the decision-maker to reach a judgement on that question one way or another. Focusing only on the spatial aspects of built development may be a legal error.
* 'Preserve' in the NPPF policy does not mean leave entirely unchanged. It means avoid 'harm' to 'openness'

Finally, the Government has indicated since 2013 that unmet housing need alone is not sufficient to amount to very special circumstances - a view that seems unlikely to change.

3) The Green Belt in the area around Cockernhoe

Therefore, it seems that the visual impact of 'openness' in the land to the east of Luton around Cockernhoe is now vitally important as Court of Appeal case law has decreed.

Nowhere in the original assessment of the potential developments on Green Belt land has NHDC considered 'openness' and from that 'harm to openness'.

For NHDC to ignore 'openness' is perhaps surprising especially given that their own consultants Peter Brett & Associates flagged this up most comprehensively and critically in their June 2016 Luton HMA and Site Selection Assessment Report - Critical Assessment of Site Selection.

In describing the land area around Cockernhoe to the east of Luton the report said:

"The eastern boundary of the built up area is generally well defined by a strong wide tree belt, in places supplemented by linear open space. This is an enduring boundary along a well-established landscape feature, which also makes a very important visual contribution to the containment of the built up area (hence reducing the sense of encroachment of the built- up area into the countryside); it also safeguards the countryside from the encroachment of Luton beyond the existing well-defined edge. Overall the northern part of the parcel (which is the part considered for this study) has a well-defined principally rural character and is free of encroachment from inappropriate development."

It goes on to say in relation to NHDC's assessment of the area around Cockernhoe for Green Belt purposes in terms of 'openness', that:

"Part of the assessment criteria for 'openness' uses the basis of relationship to built-up areas as the basis for the assessment; for example, if a site is bounded on two sides by development it would be deemed to contribute less to 'openness'. However, this is too simplistic; much depends upon the nature of the site and the boundaries of the adjoining development. The opposite could be said to be the case; if that site were to be largely free of development it may provide a very important perception of 'openness' which is enhanced as a result of its juxtaposition with development; or it may be that those adjoining built up edges are well contained by woodland for example such that the influence of the urban areas is contained. The south eastern part of parcel 212a (proposed allocation site EL3) is a case in point; even though there is a clear visual relationship between the edge of Luton and southern edge of Cockernhoe, there is a very clear sense of 'openness' between the two due to the undeveloped open nature of the arable land that separates them;

It adds later: "The distinction between the urban area and countryside is very pronounced with productive agricultural uses extending right up to the urban boundary with some areas having a surprising sense of rurality and remoteness despite the close proximity of Luton."

It continues: "It is our view that this area has very significant landscape and visual constraints and that the adverse effects of medium to large scale development (which is what is being proposed) will have a fundamental effect on the character of the area. This is reflected in a previous (The Landscape Partnership) study which identifies it as having a Low capacity for medium /large scale development (note - there is no 'No capacity' category).

"In this context it raises the question of whether there may be areas around other parts of Luton's periphery (i.e. outside North Herts) that are less sensitive and which have a greater capacity to accommodate significant growth".
In its conclusions to NHDC, the report states, inter alia:

"Whether if Luton is to be expanded, development on the part of its fringe within North Herts is an appropriate way of addressing the need in comparison with the potential role of other parts of Luton's fringe.

"That said, it is a striking feature of where the Council (NHDC) has got to that the scale of housing development in North Herts District to contribute to Luton's needs is presented as an 'offer', and is based on the capacity of sites put forward by promoters driven by ownerships primarily.
"This is a fundamentally different approach from one of determining the level of provision as part of a strategic and cooperative (though inevitably iterative) approach with all parties involved, and then seeking the best ways to make that provision having regard to all relevant considerations. The next step based on this position, and on an understanding of how the fringe of Luton performs, together with proper aspirations for what is wanted in place making terms, might then have been to establish the framework of an urban extension of Luton with an integrated structure for development, green infrastructure and connectivity set out, and into which the respective landowners and developers could work up their proposals.
"The approach the Council has followed is set out for instance in the 'Housing and Settlement Hierarchy Background Paper', and it is an approach that leaves the Local Plan process open to the investigation and promotion of other sites by developers who may or may not have come forward yet, and, in particular, to future claims by Luton Borough Council and others no doubt, that North Herts should do more.
"This report addresses this context and these potential consequences in two ways:
It seeks to demonstrate through an overview of setting, environmental constraints, landscape character and Green Belt considerations, given that there are natural limits to the amount of development that can be accommodated in an acceptable form as the expansion of Luton; and
It notes that within the acceptable limits of the expansion of Luton in this direction there may be other land that according to the criteria used could be developed that may not have been adequately investigated and for which clear reasons have not been stated as to why the land is not included in the Local Plan.

Inherent in this criticism by the consultants is that NHDC has not realistically sought with other neighbouring local authorities - in this case Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council - to work with them to assess properly whether they could accommodate some or all of the proposed housing that NHDC proposes to build on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe to meet what is now seen as a scarcely justifiable unmet housing need arising from within Luton.

Whilst NHDC has for sure signed Statements of Common Ground with all its neighbouring local authorities these have all the hallmarks of box-ticking exercises in relation to the Duty to Co-operate under the Localism Act. None of the signed documents carry any substantive comment about how NHDC worked with these other authorities to assess whether other areas in their own jurisdictions could provide the space for the extra homes required by Luton. All the documents convey is - as Peter Brett & Associates put it - is that NHDC has made an offer to build these homes; an offer which the other authorities have, not surprisingly, accepted at face value and which subsequently has become inherent in the planning documentation across all the neighbouring local authorities.

It does seem increasingly likely that NHDC is particularly desperate to build these homes around Cockernhoe on protected Green Belt land. One has to ask why this is the case, given that 'openness' and 'harm to openness' have not featured at all in their assessments, and that the area in question is graded by NHDC itself as making a substantial contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt.

4) The flawed Green Belt review published by NHDC in September 2018

The original 2016 Green Belt designation for the area to around Cockernhoe carried out by NHDC had classified the area as making a 'significant contribution' to the purposes of the Green Belt in the two most important of the five key national NPPF guidelines. The NHDC study found that this area's significant contribution was measured against the two fundamental purposes, namely 1 and 3 below of the five NPPF purposes:
1.To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
2.To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
3.To assist in saving the countryside from encroachment;
4.To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns, and;
5.To assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Unfortunately, the end result of this study, 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 purposes, (purpose number 5 was clearly not relevant here), was downgraded to what is termed a MODERATE overall contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to its circumstances, were not rated as highly.

At the time this downgrading was criticised by Peter Brett & Associates in June 2016 who stated:

"The overall assessment that the parcel in the area adjoining Luton makes a 'moderate overall contribution' appears to be based on the premise that if land is found to make a significant contribution to only some of the purposes, then it performs less well in overall terms (this is a downside of numerical scoring systems). Green Belt purposes are of the same importance (there is no 'weighting') and if only one purpose is of high importance then the parcel is therefore making an important contribution to the Green Belt. On the basis of our observations, this parcel makes a 'significant' contribution to Green Belt purposes."

As a direct result of the paper on 'openness' presented to the Inspector on behalf of Save our Green Belt (ED87A), NHDC carried out the September 2018 review of its Green Belt assessments. Their review reversed and upgraded the Cockernhoe area from making a modest overall contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt to the higher rating of making a significant overall contribution.

It should be noted that in coming to this decision it took NHDC 2.5 years to follow the recommendations of their consultants Peter Brett & Associates in their June 2016 report to NHDC.

However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because, they say, 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 so-called 'unmet needs' arising from within Luton.

It may be significant - given the criticism levelled at NHDC in their first Green Belt study of 2016 - that NHDC carried out their September 2018 Green Belt review themselves and it has not been critiqued or commented on by any outside consultants such as Peter Brett & Associates.
Fundamentally, this September 2018 Green Belt review has failed to consider the potential 'harm' that would arise to the Green Belt from the planned development around Cockernhoe.
It is instructive here to compare the approach of NHDC to that of neighbouring local authority Welwyn & Hatfield (W&H). In the W&H Local Plan examination, the Inspector asked the authority to identify which parts of the Borough's Green Belt are 'most essential' to its function and thus critical to remain as Green Belt.
W&H appointed consultants (Landuse.co.uk) to carry out the same type of task as was done by NHDC to ascertain which areas of Green Belt were deemed as making Significant or Moderate contributions in terms of Green Belt purposes. But then W&H went a stage further. This report "Welwyn Hatfield Green Belt Study Stage 3" was completed in March 2019.
It is notable, when reading the W&H Green Belt Study, how much credence is given in the report to 'openness', to a discussion of recent case law and definitions of 'openness'. This level of detail including land and aerial photographs of Green Belt land parcels contrasts most strongly with the scant and incomplete approach taken by NHDC.
The report from Landuse.co.uk stated that for land to be assessed as 'most essential' for Green Belt purposes there must be a very high level of 'harm' associated with its release from the Green Belt.
Areas of very high 'harm' were identified where there is:

* A particularly significant contribution to a single one of the first four national NPPF Green Belt purposes.

* A significant contribution to more than one of the first four national Green Belt purposes is judged to cause 'very high harm' and be 'most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

* A particularly strong impact on the defined Green Belt boundary, or on the integrity of the wider Green Belt.

The W&H report studied 95 parcels of land within the Green Belt. Comparing the application of Purposes 1 and 3 to these Green Belt parcels, (the same as for Cockernhoe which achieved a significant contribution to both purposes), we see that none of them achieved anything more than a 'limited' or 'no contribution to Purpose 1 (checking the sprawl of large built up areas).
Against Purpose 3 (to assist the safeguarding the countryside from encroachment) 71 of the parcels received a 'significant contribution' grading; the remaining 24 getting only a 'limited' or 'no contribution' rating.
(NB for purposes of clarity it should be noted that several of these parcels of W&H Green Belt land scored highly on other NPPF purposes - by virtue of different landscapes and circumstances.)
The report then considered the assessment of 'harm' to the Green Belt if these parcels were released for development. In this instance the 95 parcels of land were subdivided down into 184 smaller parcels for examination. Sixty-one of these parcels had a 'very high' or' high' harm rating (20 'very high' and 41 as 'high').
The final element of the report then classified 16 of those sites as having a 'most essential' Green Belt rating. One of these is the area around Woolmer Green which is close to Knebworth in North Hertfordshire.
The Woolmer Green/Knebworth Green Belt parcel is in many ways similar to the land around Cockernhoe and thus it is useful for comparison.
The Woolmer Green area has a Green Belt gap between it and Knebworth of only 400 metres across undeveloped, visually open farmland. The gaps in the north-south settlement chain in W&H are narrow, so land which preserves the local landscape identity by forming an undeveloped countryside gap is considered very important in Green Belt terms and therefore designated as 'most essential'.
This is very similar to the narrow strip of land between the Cockernhoe area in North Hertfordshire and the Luton town boundary.
But tellingly, the Green Belt around Cockernhoe has a significant contribution against both Purposes 1 and 3 so making this area even stronger than the land in W&H around Woolmer Green/Knebworth (which rated as significant against only Purpose 3) and which is described as 'most essential' to the purposes of the Green Belt.
Paragraph 136 of the NPPF states quite clearly that 'once established Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified."
Para 144 states: When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. 'Very special circumstances' will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm resulting from the proposal, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

'Harm' in the Green Belt context is therefore vitally important. NHDC should have considered 'harm' in its slapdash review of September 2018. If there is to be any consistency in local planning and if NHDC had used the detailed analysis employed by the W&H consultancy there is little doubt that the area to the east of Luton would be designated as suffering considerable 'harm' to the Green belt and therefore it should be re-graded as ' most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

Furthermore, Central Bedfordshire Council and Luton Borough Council commissioned a joint study into the Green Belt (Central Bedfordshire Green Belt Study Stage 3) of January 2018. This covered 80 sites in Central Bedfordshire and 8 sites in the Luton Borough area and was carried out by the same consultancy (landuse.co.uk) and to the same level of detail. So it also assessed which parcels of land were regarded as potentially suffering from ' harm' to the Green Belt if released for development and from that gave a grading as to how many of those parcels would be deemed as 'most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

Conclusions

We contend that:

* NHDC should have followed the comprehensive approach of three of its neighbouring local authorities - and commissioned detailed and independent studies into the 'openness' of its Green Belt areas earmarked for development and from that identified which parcels of land would suffer from 'harm' and hence assessing needs as to how essential the land is to Green Belt purposes.
* We are confident that if this approach had been followed, the Green Belt area around Cockernhoe would have been designated as likely to suffer 'very high harm' from potential development and would have been designated as 'most essential' for Green Belt purposes.
* We believe that the September 2018 Green Belt Review carried out by NHDC was thin, selective and nowhere near detailed enough - even though it regraded the Cockernhoe Green Belt area as making a 'significant overall contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt'.
* We argue that the Inspector should have identified these shortcomings as the Inspector examining the Welwyn & Hatfield Local Plan has done and required a complete re-assessment of the Green Belt plans in North Hertfordshire to be carried out properly.
* There needs to be consistency in local planning and its methodology and Inspectors have to be cognisant of what is going on in their neighbouring authorities' areas of examination.
* Fundamentally, we contend that the draft NHDC Local Plan, its modifications and Evidence Documents examined in this representation reveals that this aspect of the Plan is unsound and should be dismissed.

* Finally - is it too fanciful to suggest that there appears to be strong grounds for an independent inquiry into how NHDC has conducted itself in relation to its almost obsessive desire to build large numbers of homes on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe. Also, why it continues to promote this policy, despite many areas of investigation on a variety of different topics which have been documented by representations and which all point to deep flaws in the Council's approach. Everything points to NHDC desperately seeking to massage its work, its statistics and its whole approach to justify a pre-planned and pre-determined outcome with no consideration for the well-being of the communities of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green, as well as the sanctity and transparency of the robust planning process that is required and the protection of the Green Belt which its residents/constituents in this part of North Hertfordshire so earnestly desire.

Support

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7678

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Bloor Homes South Midlands

Agent: White Peak Planning

Representation:

See attached representation

Full text:

See Attached

Attachments:

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7685

Received: 05/04/2019

Respondent: Mr Peter White

Representation:

See representations below

Full text:

I believe the application should be refused as these houses are tantamount
to building a new town, but without any of the amenities or road structure
to support it, therefore inflicting this all on to the Eastern communities of Luton.

It is well known that these houses are for Luton's benefit stock wise, and that
they do not care about the problems they will cause in East Luton.
They are already using the "gridlock" these houses will cause, as an excuse to
build their Terminal 2 Access Road around Luton Airport.
They chose to site this housing development as the core need for this road,
deliberately forgetting the 12 million passengers they plan for their site.

The only employment sites for these houses are in, or through the East of Luton.
The only schooling for these houses is in the East of Luton.
The only medical and retail facilities for these houses are in the East of Luton.

East Luton is creaking at the seams already, it does not need these houses
making it more intolerable to live in, despite Luton Borough Council telling
you lies that there is plenty of scope to absorb these homes.

Luton is full, we cannot absorb any more people or housing, what ever
the perceived needs may be.
We in East Luton already have the spectre of an unwanted airport expansion
on our doorstep, which we will be paying for decades to come.

By building these houses knowingly in an area which will also be massively
affected by this airport expansion, you will place yourself liable to future
civil legal actions by the residents of those houses, by knowingly approving
a development that you knew would be affected by airport expansion
pollution and congestion, and there being no answer to alleviating or stopping it.

Please accept this as my letter of objection.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7693

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Miss Alison Beasey

Representation:

See attached

Full text:

Examination of Modification MM023 - Policy SP5 Countryside and the Green Belt;
Examination of Modification MM083 - Policy SP19 - Sites EL1, EL2, EL3 - to the east of Luton;
Examination of ED87A - Submission on Green Belt by Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers on behalf of Save Our Green Belt 25 January 2018;
Examination of ED143 - Countryside and the Green Belt - the Green Belt Review and approach to safeguarded land;
Examination of ED161 - Green Belt Review by North Herts District Council in September 2018

THE REPRESENTOR'S ARGUMENTS

1) Introductory Comments

The fundamental objections raised concerning the above documents are:
* The vital question of the concept of 'Openness' in relation to the Green Belt.
* The flawed review by NHDC of the Green Belt in September 2018 (ED161) where 'Openness' is scarcely mentioned and which also fails to study the 'harm' arising from potentially releasing Green Belt land for development
* The relevance of these points to the proposed building on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe to meet the so-called unmet housing need arising from within Luton.

The NHDC Local Plan scarcely mentions 'Openness' in any of its commentaries about the Green Belt and also not in ED143 of 2016 which was the original NHDC detailed document which studied the Green Belt in depth. Furthermore, there is also very little mention of 'Openness' in the Modification documents listed above.
Evidence Document ED87A introduced the vitally important concept of 'Openness' in a paper submitted by Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers in January 2018. This cited case law as will be explained below.
This led to a review by NHDC of the Green Belt in ED161 in September 2018 (fieldwork undertaken between June and August) which further escalated the importance of the Green Belt in the area east of Luton around Cockernhoe. Even then in this revised Green Belt Review, the only mentions of 'Openness' are to acknowledge the paper submitted in ED87A through a cursory comment in the introduction; it seems that NHDC really doesn't understand the significance of 'Openness' in relation to the Green Belt.
Furthermore, we contend that the NHDC Green Belt review of September 2018 was flawed. Despite awarding even more protection status to the Green Belt around Cockernhoe, the review fails to study 'harm' resulting from building on Green Belt land.
It may also be significant that this review was carried out by NHDC themselves with no input at all from external consultants; this contrasts significantly with the approach taken by neighbouring Welwyn/Hatfield District Council as will be explained below.
Despite the re-grading of the Green belt around Cockernhoe to an even higher status of 'significant'. NHDC persists in its quest to build on this Green Belt land to meet so-called 'unmet housing needs' arising from Luton.

2) The Background to 'Openness'

According to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) documentation: "The fundamental aim of the Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; and the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence".

'Openness' is thus a fundamental cornerstone of Green Belt policy, though it has never been particularly well defined by governments in the NPPF documentation/guidance. Up until recently planners have viewed 'openness' as primarily a spatial designation, rather than a landscape designation, but there has been no clear indication about a visual component. Indeed 'harm' to 'openness' can be a vitally important element to the 'other harm' that local authorities have to assess when submitting proposals to build on the Green Belt.

It is clear in the NPPF guidelines that local authorities should regard construction of new buildings on Green Belt land as inappropriate except in specific circumstances in connection with the existing use of the land for e.g. outdoor sport, recreation, allotments etc.... as long as those facilities preserve the 'openness' of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. Also allowed is limited infilling or partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land (e.g. farm buildings), but such a development must not have a greater impact on the 'openness' of the Green Belt than the existing development or not cause substantial harm to the 'openness' of the Green Belt.

Over recent years there have been a number of legal cases brought by people seeking to protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development. The significance of two recent cases in the Court of Appeal is that they provide some form of template on 'openness' that local authority planners must follow.

The two recent relevant cases are Turner v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government of May 2016; and Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) Ltd v North Yorkshire County Council of March 2018.

Without going into huge detail, the Turner case was an appeal by the plaintiffs to overturn local authority refusals to grant planning permission on Green Belt land. The Court of Appeal upheld the refusals.

In the Samuel Smith case, the appeal was against the local planning authority which had granted planning permission for a development on Green Belt land and the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal and thus refused the development. The Judges' ruling established that an assessment of a proposed development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt includes consideration of the impact of the proposed development upon the visual dimension of 'openness' as well as the spatial dimension of 'openness'.

The Simonicity legal blog of March 2018 succinctly captured the essence of this ruling. He wrote:

Essentially it means that: "the effect of a particular development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt cannot properly be gauged merely by its two-dimensional or three-dimensional presence on the site in question - the very fact of its being there - without taking into account the effects it will have on the openness of the Green Belt in the eyes of the viewer.

To exclude visual impact, as a matter of principle, from a consideration of the likely effects of development on the 'openness' of the Green Belt would be artificial and unrealistic. A realistic assessment will often have to include the likely perceived effects on 'openness', if any, as well as the spatial effects. Whether, in the individual circumstances of a particular case, there are likely to be visual as well as spatial effects on the 'openness' of the Green Belt, and, if so, whether those effects are likely to be harmful or benign, will be for the decision-maker to judge. But the need for those judgments to be exercised is, in my view, inherent in the policy."

"In my view, therefore, when the development under consideration is within one of the five NPPF purposes and is likely to have visual effects within the Green Belt, the policy implicitly requires the decision-maker to consider how those visual effects bear on the question of whether the development would "preserve the 'openness' of the Green Belt". Where that planning judgment is not exercised by the decision-maker, effect will not be given to the policy. This will amount to a misunderstanding of the policy, and thus its misapplication, which is a failure to have regard to a material consideration, and an error of law."

(https://simonicity.com/2018/03/30/green-belt-developments).

To put it even more succinctly Zack Simons, Planning Barrister from the Landmark Chambers explains that:

* Visual impact of a development may be an aspect of Green Belt 'openness'
* Applying the NPPF purposes will mean an assessment will have to be made on the likely 'perceived' effects of 'openness', if any, as well as the spatial effects
* Whether there will be visual as well as spatial effects on 'openness' depends on the facts and will be for the decision-maker to judge
* But the NPPF policy 'requires' the decision-maker to reach a judgement on that question one way or another. Focusing only on the spatial aspects of built development may be a legal error.
* 'Preserve' in the NPPF policy does not mean leave entirely unchanged. It means avoid 'harm' to 'openness'

Finally, the Government has indicated since 2013 that unmet housing need alone is not sufficient to amount to very special circumstances - a view that seems unlikely to change.

3) The Green Belt in the area around Cockernhoe

Therefore, it seems that the visual impact of 'openness' in the land to the east of Luton around Cockernhoe is now vitally important as Court of Appeal case law has decreed.

Nowhere in the original assessment of the potential developments on Green Belt land has NHDC considered 'openness' and from that 'harm to openness'.

For NHDC to ignore 'openness' is perhaps surprising especially given that their own consultants Peter Brett & Associates flagged this up most comprehensively and critically in their June 2016 Luton HMA and Site Selection Assessment Report - Critical Assessment of Site Selection.

In describing the land area around Cockernhoe to the east of Luton the report said:

"The eastern boundary of the built up area is generally well defined by a strong wide tree belt, in places supplemented by linear open space. This is an enduring boundary along a well-established landscape feature, which also makes a very important visual contribution to the containment of the built up area (hence reducing the sense of encroachment of the built- up area into the countryside); it also safeguards the countryside from the encroachment of Luton beyond the existing well-defined edge. Overall the northern part of the parcel (which is the part considered for this study) has a well-defined principally rural character and is free of encroachment from inappropriate development."

It goes on to say in relation to NHDC's assessment of the area around Cockernhoe for Green Belt purposes in terms of 'openness', that:

"Part of the assessment criteria for 'openness' uses the basis of relationship to built-up areas as the basis for the assessment; for example, if a site is bounded on two sides by development it would be deemed to contribute less to 'openness'. However, this is too simplistic; much depends upon the nature of the site and the boundaries of the adjoining development. The opposite could be said to be the case; if that site were to be largely free of development it may provide a very important perception of 'openness' which is enhanced as a result of its juxtaposition with development; or it may be that those adjoining built up edges are well contained by woodland for example such that the influence of the urban areas is contained. The south eastern part of parcel 212a (proposed allocation site EL3) is a case in point; even though there is a clear visual relationship between the edge of Luton and southern edge of Cockernhoe, there is a very clear sense of 'openness' between the two due to the undeveloped open nature of the arable land that separates them;

It adds later: "The distinction between the urban area and countryside is very pronounced with productive agricultural uses extending right up to the urban boundary with some areas having a surprising sense of rurality and remoteness despite the close proximity of Luton."

It continues: "It is our view that this area has very significant landscape and visual constraints and that the adverse effects of medium to large scale development (which is what is being proposed) will have a fundamental effect on the character of the area. This is reflected in a previous (The Landscape Partnership) study which identifies it as having a Low capacity for medium /large scale development (note - there is no 'No capacity' category).

"In this context it raises the question of whether there may be areas around other parts of Luton's periphery (i.e. outside North Herts) that are less sensitive and which have a greater capacity to accommodate significant growth".
In its conclusions to NHDC, the report states, inter alia:

"Whether if Luton is to be expanded, development on the part of its fringe within North Herts is an appropriate way of addressing the need in comparison with the potential role of other parts of Luton's fringe.

"That said, it is a striking feature of where the Council (NHDC) has got to that the scale of housing development in North Herts District to contribute to Luton's needs is presented as an 'offer', and is based on the capacity of sites put forward by promoters driven by ownerships primarily.
"This is a fundamentally different approach from one of determining the level of provision as part of a strategic and cooperative (though inevitably iterative) approach with all parties involved, and then seeking the best ways to make that provision having regard to all relevant considerations. The next step based on this position, and on an understanding of how the fringe of Luton performs, together with proper aspirations for what is wanted in place making terms, might then have been to establish the framework of an urban extension of Luton with an integrated structure for development, green infrastructure and connectivity set out, and into which the respective landowners and developers could work up their proposals.
"The approach the Council has followed is set out for instance in the 'Housing and Settlement Hierarchy Background Paper', and it is an approach that leaves the Local Plan process open to the investigation and promotion of other sites by developers who may or may not have come forward yet, and, in particular, to future claims by Luton Borough Council and others no doubt, that North Herts should do more.
"This report addresses this context and these potential consequences in two ways:
It seeks to demonstrate through an overview of setting, environmental constraints, landscape character and Green Belt considerations, given that there are natural limits to the amount of development that can be accommodated in an acceptable form as the expansion of Luton; and
It notes that within the acceptable limits of the expansion of Luton in this direction there may be other land that according to the criteria used could be developed that may not have been adequately investigated and for which clear reasons have not been stated as to why the land is not included in the Local Plan.

Inherent in this criticism by the consultants is that NHDC has not realistically sought with other neighbouring local authorities - in this case Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council - to work with them to assess properly whether they could accommodate some or all of the proposed housing that NHDC proposes to build on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe to meet what is now seen as a scarcely justifiable unmet housing need arising from within Luton.

Whilst NHDC has for sure signed Statements of Common Ground with all its neighbouring local authorities these have all the hallmarks of box-ticking exercises in relation to the Duty to Co-operate under the Localism Act. None of the signed documents carry any substantive comment about how NHDC worked with these other authorities to assess whether other areas in their own jurisdictions could provide the space for the extra homes required by Luton. All the documents convey is - as Peter Brett & Associates put it - is that NHDC has made an offer to build these homes; an offer which the other authorities have, not surprisingly, accepted at face value and which subsequently has become inherent in the planning documentation across all the neighbouring local authorities.

It does seem increasingly likely that NHDC is particularly desperate to build these homes around Cockernhoe on protected Green Belt land. One has to ask why this is the case, given that 'openness' and 'harm to openness' have not featured at all in their assessments, and that the area in question is graded by NHDC itself as making a substantial contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt.

4) The flawed Green Belt review published by NHDC in September 2018

The original 2016 Green Belt designation for the area to around Cockernhoe carried out by NHDC had classified the area as making a 'significant contribution' to the purposes of the Green Belt in the two most important of the five key national NPPF guidelines. The NHDC study found that this area's significant contribution was measured against the two fundamental purposes, namely 1 and 3 below of the five NPPF purposes:
1.To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
2.To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
3.To assist in saving the countryside from encroachment;
4.To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns, and;
5.To assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Unfortunately, the end result of this study, 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 purposes, (purpose number 5 was clearly not relevant here), was downgraded to what is termed a MODERATE overall contribution by virtue of the fact that the two other scores, which are hardly related to this area and to its circumstances, were not rated as highly.

At the time this downgrading was criticised by Peter Brett & Associates in June 2016 who stated:

"The overall assessment that the parcel in the area adjoining Luton makes a 'moderate overall contribution' appears to be based on the premise that if land is found to make a significant contribution to only some of the purposes, then it performs less well in overall terms (this is a downside of numerical scoring systems). Green Belt purposes are of the same importance (there is no 'weighting') and if only one purpose is of high importance then the parcel is therefore making an important contribution to the Green Belt. On the basis of our observations, this parcel makes a 'significant' contribution to Green Belt purposes."

As a direct result of the paper on 'openness' presented to the Inspector on behalf of Save our Green Belt (ED87A), NHDC carried out the September 2018 review of its Green Belt assessments. Their review reversed and upgraded the Cockernhoe area from making a modest overall contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt to the higher rating of making a significant overall contribution.

It should be noted that in coming to this decision it took NHDC 2.5 years to follow the recommendations of their consultants Peter Brett & Associates in their June 2016 report to NHDC.

However this has not altered NHDC's view that the proposed development East of Luton should go forward. This is because, they say, 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 so-called 'unmet needs' arising from within Luton.

It may be significant - given the criticism levelled at NHDC in their first Green Belt study of 2016 - that NHDC carried out their September 2018 Green Belt review themselves and it has not been critiqued or commented on by any outside consultants such as Peter Brett & Associates.
Fundamentally, this September 2018 Green Belt review has failed to consider the potential 'harm' that would arise to the Green Belt from the planned development around Cockernhoe.
It is instructive here to compare the approach of NHDC to that of neighbouring local authority Welwyn & Hatfield (W&H). In the W&H Local Plan examination, the Inspector asked the authority to identify which parts of the Borough's Green Belt are 'most essential' to its function and thus critical to remain as Green Belt.
W&H appointed consultants (Landuse.co.uk) to carry out the same type of task as was done by NHDC to ascertain which areas of Green Belt were deemed as making Significant or Moderate contributions in terms of Green Belt purposes. But then W&H went a stage further. This report "Welwyn Hatfield Green Belt Study Stage 3" was completed in March 2019.
It is notable, when reading the W&H Green Belt Study, how much credence is given in the report to 'openness', to a discussion of recent case law and definitions of 'openness'. This level of detail including land and aerial photographs of Green Belt land parcels contrasts most strongly with the scant and incomplete approach taken by NHDC.
The report from Landuse.co.uk stated that for land to be assessed as 'most essential' for Green Belt purposes there must be a very high level of 'harm' associated with its release from the Green Belt.
Areas of very high 'harm' were identified where there is:

* A particularly significant contribution to a single one of the first four national NPPF Green Belt purposes.

* A significant contribution to more than one of the first four national Green Belt purposes is judged to cause 'very high harm' and be 'most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

* A particularly strong impact on the defined Green Belt boundary, or on the integrity of the wider Green Belt.

The W&H report studied 95 parcels of land within the Green Belt. Comparing the application of Purposes 1 and 3 to these Green Belt parcels, (the same as for Cockernhoe which achieved a significant contribution to both purposes), we see that none of them achieved anything more than a 'limited' or 'no contribution to Purpose 1 (checking the sprawl of large built up areas).
Against Purpose 3 (to assist the safeguarding the countryside from encroachment) 71 of the parcels received a 'significant contribution' grading; the remaining 24 getting only a 'limited' or 'no contribution' rating.
(NB for purposes of clarity it should be noted that several of these parcels of W&H Green Belt land scored highly on other NPPF purposes - by virtue of different landscapes and circumstances.)
The report then considered the assessment of 'harm' to the Green Belt if these parcels were released for development. In this instance the 95 parcels of land were subdivided down into 184 smaller parcels for examination. Sixty-one of these parcels had a 'very high' or' high' harm rating (20 'very high' and 41 as 'high').
The final element of the report then classified 16 of those sites as having a 'most essential' Green Belt rating. One of these is the area around Woolmer Green which is close to Knebworth in North Hertfordshire.
The Woolmer Green/Knebworth Green Belt parcel is in many ways similar to the land around Cockernhoe and thus it is useful for comparison.
The Woolmer Green area has a Green Belt gap between it and Knebworth of only 400 metres across undeveloped, visually open farmland. The gaps in the north-south settlement chain in W&H are narrow, so land which preserves the local landscape identity by forming an undeveloped countryside gap is considered very important in Green Belt terms and therefore designated as 'most essential'.
This is very similar to the narrow strip of land between the Cockernhoe area in North Hertfordshire and the Luton town boundary.
But tellingly, the Green Belt around Cockernhoe has a significant contribution against both Purposes 1 and 3 so making this area even stronger than the land in W&H around Woolmer Green/Knebworth (which rated as significant against only Purpose 3) and which is described as 'most essential' to the purposes of the Green Belt.
Paragraph 136 of the NPPF states quite clearly that 'once established Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified."
Para 144 states: When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. 'Very special circumstances' will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm resulting from the proposal, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

'Harm' in the Green Belt context is therefore vitally important. NHDC should have considered 'harm' in its slapdash review of September 2018. If there is to be any consistency in local planning and if NHDC had used the detailed analysis employed by the W&H consultancy there is little doubt that the area to the east of Luton would be designated as suffering considerable 'harm' to the Green belt and therefore it should be re-graded as ' most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

Furthermore, Central Bedfordshire Council and Luton Borough Council commissioned a joint study into the Green Belt (Central Bedfordshire Green Belt Study Stage 3) of January 2018. This covered 80 sites in Central Bedfordshire and 8 sites in the Luton Borough area and was carried out by the same consultancy (landuse.co.uk) and to the same level of detail. So it also assessed which parcels of land were regarded as potentially suffering from ' harm' to the Green Belt if released for development and from that gave a grading as to how many of those parcels would be deemed as 'most essential' to Green Belt purposes.

Conclusions

We contend that:

* NHDC should have followed the comprehensive approach of three of its neighbouring local authorities - and commissioned detailed and independent studies into the 'openness' of its Green Belt areas earmarked for development and from that identified which parcels of land would suffer from 'harm' and hence assessing needs as to how essential the land is to Green Belt purposes.
* We are confident that if this approach had been followed, the Green Belt area around Cockernhoe would have been designated as likely to suffer 'very high harm' from potential development and would have been designated as 'most essential' for Green Belt purposes.
* We believe that the September 2018 Green Belt Review carried out by NHDC was thin, selective and nowhere near detailed enough - even though it regraded the Cockernhoe Green Belt area as making a 'significant overall contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt'.
* We argue that the Inspector should have identified these shortcomings as the Inspector examining the Welwyn & Hatfield Local Plan has done and required a complete re-assessment of the Green Belt plans in North Hertfordshire to be carried out properly.
* There needs to be consistency in local planning and its methodology and Inspectors have to be cognisant of what is going on in their neighbouring authorities' areas of examination.
* Fundamentally, we contend that the draft NHDC Local Plan, its modifications and Evidence Documents examined in this representation reveals that this aspect of the Plan is unsound and should be dismissed.

* Finally - is it too fanciful to suggest that there appears to be strong grounds for an independent inquiry into how NHDC has conducted itself in relation to its almost obsessive desire to build large numbers of homes on Green Belt land around Cockernhoe. Also, why it continues to promote this policy, despite many areas of investigation on a variety of different topics which have been documented by representations and which all point to deep flaws in the Council's approach. Everything points to NHDC desperately seeking to massage its work, its statistics and its whole approach to justify a pre-planned and pre-determined outcome with no consideration for the well-being of the communities of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green, as well as the sanctity and transparency of the robust planning process that is required and the protection of the Green Belt which its residents/constituents in this part of North Hertfordshire so earnestly desire.

Object

Proposed Main Modifications

Representation ID: 7704

Received: 10/04/2019

Respondent: Miss Alison Beasey

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.