A search should be launched for a new garden city in Hertfordshire, according to two Tory MPs.
Both Sir Oliver Heald and Peter Lilley believe it is the best way to protect the countryside, after Conservative-led North Herts District Council (NHDC) put forth plans for more than 14,000 homes until 2031 – mostly in the green belt.In his response to NHDC’s local plan, Sir Oliver proposes building around 3,450 homes, up until 2021, on “brownfield, non-contentious and mainly non-green belt” land.
As permission has been granted for 2,600 homes, this would free up 2021-2031 to establish a “garden city-style development” of 6,000 homes to meet the government’s 12,100 housing target for NHDC’s needs.The remaining 2,100 homes are for nearby Luton.The North East Hertfordshire MP wrote: “Some argue that north Herts district should simply give up on growth, but this would be against the interests of my constituents and the strong businesses which have developed in north Hertfordshire over recent years.
“I therefore hope it will be possible to change the plan to deal with the first ten years and then try to find a suitable site for a garden city-style development to take up most of the remaining numbers.”His Conservative colleague Peter Lilley, who represents Hitchin and Harpenden in Westminster, backs the hunt for a new settlement that follows Ebenezer Howard’s ideals.
He told the Mercury that senior Government figures are aware of the suggestion.“I’m very interested in this, I raised it when we had a joint meeting with Eric Pickles,” he said.
“I have also raised it with north Hertfordshire district, and no one seems to be against it.“The only problem is the timing and whether we can get a proposal up in time to get it through into consultation for inspection.
“Oliver’s approach to break it is a way to get round it.”When quizzed if he had a preferred location for the development, Mr Lilley said: “That would be the task for the council to identify and then consult.”
The Mercury also understands Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland backs the idea, but he was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.NHDC’s elected planning chief, Councillor David Levett, revealed the new garden city idea has been mooted but was found to not be viable in the next 20 years.
“Longer term the idea should be pursued, but the problem is finding suitable locations for a full new settlement in North Hertfordshire so it would mean working with others to find the land, and that could be a lengthy process,” he said.“There is also no guarantee that the site would be popular with local residents.”
He did, however, say larger developments should follow a “garden village” approach.