Letter: Green belt housing

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article (16 October) on new housing development and the future of the Green Belt was timely in drawing attention to the difficult planning decisions involved. We would like to emphasise four points about the situation in Hertfordshire you mention.

First, the Hertfordshire Structure Plan is in line with regional planning policy set by the previous government. The county council has to provide its allotted share of overall housing provision in the South-east - 65,000 more homes in the county during the period 1991 to 2011.

Second, the main development strategy in Hertfordshire is "planned regeneration" of towns - providing as many more homes as possible within existing built- up areas. We would like to provide all 65,000 by regeneration but we do not believe this is feasible.

Third, our choice of west of Stevenage as the location for housing was a key issue at the public inquiry. The panel upheld the county council's reasons for choosing this location. West of Stevenage is in the Green Belt but, crucially in its favour, it is also close to town centre facilities, job opportunities and excellent public transport links.

Fourth, only 3,600 new homes will be built west of Stevenage by 2011. How many more will be built here, and on Green Belt land elsewhere in Hertfordshire, will depend on central government, which is preparing new regional planning guidance.

Hertfordshire County Council is making it clear to the Government what the consequences for the Green Belt will be if its housing allocation is increased.

JOHN METCALF

Leader of Hertfordshire County Council

CHRIS WHITE

Deputy Leader of Hertfordshire County Council

Hertford

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