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Green Party objects to another development on Hitchin’s Green Belt

Deolinda Eltringham on behalf of the Green Party - Planning Ref: 22/00516/FP – Objection 

22/00516/FP | Erection of nine detached dwellings (2 x 3-bed, 1 x 4-bed and 6 x 5-bed) including garaging, parking, landscaping and creation of vehicular access off Gray's Lane. | Land To The West Of Lucas Lane And East Of Headlands Grays Lane Hitchin Hertfordshire SG5 2HR (UPRN: 010023328769)


North Herts & Stevenage Green Party, object to this planning application (Planning Ref: 22/00516/FP) on the following grounds:

  1. Lack of 'exceptional' grounds to warrant destruction of Green Belt land - Hitchin Green Belt is only to be breached in "exceptional circumstances" – no such circumstances exist!

    2. Destruction of established hedgerows and trees which provide valuable habitats, food and cover for wildlife.

    3. Destruction of wildlife corridor habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including bats, birds, insects, and large mammals.

    4. Vandalizing the woodland area by making a pathway plus isolating animal populations into smaller less viable pockets. This is in contravention of the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) reference number: 00199 (2020) and the site’s identification as a preserved wildlife habitat.

    5. Destruction of established uncultivated meadow and the fungal ecosystem within the undisturbed soil layers.  The meadowland is a haven for insects, like grasshoppers which cannot live in cultivated fields.


  1. There is no requirement nor provision to ensure that all local top soil, the “arisings”, is re-used in the same area and fields, even though it was reported that “the natural soils on this site are considered to be suitable to be re-used on site for landscaping purposes” in the Grounds Investigation report.

    7. The nine large homes and adjacent garages proposed appear to be designed to meet dated building standards that do nothing for Climate Change mitigation demanded locally, nationally and globally. There is no suggestion that they would be net zero dwellings built to Passivhaus or equivalent standards. UK properties are the least efficient in Europe, and with ever rising prices of gas, electricity, water, transport, these homes offer nothing to solve those problems. Thus, adding to all the homes that will need to be retro-fitted by 2050. For example: no roof design and orientation to maximise solar energy harvesting.


  1. These expensive houses are not needed in Hitchin, they are not affordable to build and live-in housing to meet the needs of local young people, to continue to live in the town they were born in and also hopefully work in.
  2. This application appears to be a means to facilitate a subsequent application for a larger development on the adjacent field. The current application involves creating a tarmac access point to that adjacent field, despite there being no obvious purpose of this in the application 22/00516/FP. Consequently, it is feared that this development would be the first of others nearby on adjacent fields of up to 58 dwellings. Permitting this development would set precedent for further development within the Hitchin Green Belt, leading to the loss of the entire Green Belt along Hitchin’s western periphery. Such an outcome would represent a severe loss of habitat and biodiversity as well as increasing pollution and congestion in Gray's Lane and completely transforming the area.
  3. Safety of the right of way access for the Bridle Way and Crow Furlong - used by many families and people for leisure. This development and road junction would cause a serious hazard and danger to walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders who use it constantly, and the Byway open to all traffic (BOAT) which allows access to the farmland, Ducklands Cottage, and Oughtonhead Farm where the Garden Gate cafe is.


  1. Increase in traffic and therefore pollution from the extra residents. There has already been an increase in traffic to the cricket / hockey club and adjacent new estate. There is also concern for those living in the area due to the disruption and damaging impact of the lorries servicing the sites during their construction period.

    12. An increased number of homes will also increase the numbers of local children needing to attend local schools, and they are already oversubscribed, thus resident children will need to rely on private transport out of the area causing extra pollution and congestion just to have access to education.

    13. There is no public transport provision on offer to reduce the need for private transport to the existing homes in the area, and all the homes proposed (initially 9 but 58 eventually) would make the congestions and air pollution problems on A505 past the end of Gray’s Lane so much worse, to exacerbate the existing health damaging present situation.

    14. It has been proven that walking in the countryside is good for our physical and mental wellbeing; councils need to provide and value those green spaces close to and for the local population.

    15. Local amenities are already oversubscribed including schools, doctors' surgeries, dentists, nurseries and children’s clubs – these nine homes growing to 58 would increase the burden on services.


  1. The needs of the local community would be better served if the councils focused on promoting the restoration of all empty and derelict properties and promoting the in-fill of brownfield sites.

In the year of Her Majesty’s 70th anniversary, when the country is being asked to celebrate her long service with planting trees to create a “Green canopy” this undisturbed land adjacent to hedgerows and other small woodlands nearby offer just the right sort of opportunity and location to invite tree planting to join-up the woodland areas into a real clean-air lung for the town and local area This land should be purchased for the town, and become a focal point of pride, and a local area where Hitchin’s citizens can be invited to “plant trees for the future”, and encourage the natural corridor connection to Oughtonhead Lane and Oughtonhead Common.  In the long term these areas could become a valuable natural carbon capture resource for us all and move us towards the national Net Zero target.   If so far this land has not been developed, that is indeed a valuable reason for not contaminating it now with human material, and damaging it forever.

We feel strongly that this application for planning permission should be declined. Slowly the open spaces to which Hitchin residents have access are disappearing.  Nearly all the land is either intensively farmed or managed as a nature reserves/amenity areas/parkland providing access but as such limit the quantity and diversity of undisturbed land available to living creatures.

We need to preserve and protect Hitchin’s Green Spaces.

Once that Green Belt Site is built upon it is lost forever.
Deolinda Eltringham – membership officer for NH&SGP