As with many other Dacorum Borough councillors, Cllr Nick Hollinghurst, one of the Liberal Democrat councillors representing the Tring West & Rural Ward, has received nearly 100 e-mails concerning the Dacorum Borough Council’s Development Plan which is currently available for a preliminary public consultation.
He has received an especially large number from Tring, which is expected to accommodate 55% more houses than there are in the whole town at the moment.
A somewhat smaller proportion of new houses will also be imposed on Berkhamsted.
Nearly all of these houses will be built on what is currently Green Belt, and mostly abutting the AoNB. It could be said that the setting of the Chiltern AoNB will be damaged as a result of this massive visual intrusion.
Futhermore the Conservative administration on Dacorum Borough Council has brushed aside proposals from the Liberal Democrat Opposition to delay the public consultation until the covid restrictions are over.
This is the text of his reponses to the people who have contacted him.
The local Liberal Democrats have been active in opposing both at a local and a national level:
1. The timing and geographical allocation across the UK of the 300,000 new homes
2. The uncapped and arbitrary algorithm used which loaded the allocation onto districts and boroughs on the edge of prosperous metropolitan conurbations
3. Any consultation taking place (a) before the algorithm problem was remedied (b) before the Planning White Paper proposals were clarified and while (c) the covid restrictions prevented any adequate consideration by the public of the proposals in the consultation exercise and of the numbers and issues underlying them.
4. The local decision to load housing in a disproportionate manner onto Tring (especially) and Berkhamsted.
Unfortunately, although the argument on the algorithm was won in so far as a cap was re-introduced and the arithmetic made more reasonable, the government then decided to apply the new algorithm to the National Audit Office’s estimates of housing demand to the older figures instead of to the more recent figures. In fact the National Audit Office had detected a reduction in housing demand over that 4 year interval but the government preferred the higher result from the older estimates in order to preserve their long-standing 300,000 national target.
The local detailed consequences were that Dacorum and Watford ended up with housing targets even higher than they were before.
With regard to our actions on delaying the consultation, I’m afraid the Conservative majority voted down our proposals every time. They have, however, I’m pleased to say, announced on Wednesday evening that the consultation will now be extended to 28 February. But I personally feel that the correct course of action would be to suspend the consultation right away and resume post-covid in a more effective manner.