8 July 2018
Comment on Highover Development
DS and DE for the North Hertfordshire and Stevenage Green Party
The Highover housing development (see Comet 28th June 2018) demonstrates the power of the council compared with the lack of any say by the people of Hitchin.
The residents of North East Hitchin oppose this development because it destroys their locally accessible Green Belt. It will increase traffic congestion, air and noise pollution (especially during construction) and put a strain on local services such as schools and GP surgeries. Hitchin is already a traffic nightmare at most times of the day.
The people who benefit most of all are developers and landowners. Those tempted to buy the properties will struggle with lack of local infrastructure. The “affordable” housing quoted isn’t affordable, it is at 80% of market value. This is beyond the limit for most first-timers. Affordable housing should be cheap to live in well into the 21st century, not just the cheapest to build now but with hidden future costs.
Increased building in the East of England already puts a high demand on scarce local water - will water-saving and water-recycling facilities be incorporated into these houses? Will they have solar panels on all south-facing roofs? Will they have electric car charging points? Will their waste be better sorted and recycled? Will their gardens be hedgehog- and wildlife-friendly? Will commuters be able comfortably to reach the railway station (given the narrow one-way walkway under the Cambridge Road railway bridge) and once there, will they find any seats on trains taking them to jobs away from Hitchin?
NHDC has a need to build new houses according to its local plan. It would be interesting, to see up-to-date information by independent researchers regarding the actual demand.
The Green Party does accept the need for some development in the Green Belt, but in an organic and sustainable way (by single-build individuals or small supported developments, not mega estates) and in response to local needs - not by private developers whose main interest is "profit before people”.