The Chiltern Society’s Planning Group are currently preparing a detailed response to the current consultation on the Three Rivers Local Plan. We will be submitting a detailed response by 20th August 2021, but here are our initial concerns –
- Three Rivers District is located on the edge of the Chilterns and has a high-quality local environment. The District is 76% Green Belt and contains part of the Chilterns AONB and its immediate setting.
- The area has a high biodiversity value and a rich and varied heritage.
- The Society would wish to see a much bolder commitment from the Council to Biodiversity Net Gain, nature recovery and reducing the impacts of climate change. We need to see a real change of approach in and around the Chilterns to address creeping development and increasing harm to the landscape and biodiversity.
- The Plan states that the government ‘algorithm’ suggests a housing plan of c12,000 homes, without explaining the working of this algorithm. We are pleased that the Council is suggesting reducing this figure to c9,000, but that is still very high and there is no explanation of how this is derived.
- The amount of Green Belt proposed for release is too high and there are no proposals to create additional Green Belt to compensate. It is very doubtful whether the Council should be proposing this level of Green Belt release before the Government has provided clarity on how the Green Belt will be addressed through the upcoming planning reforms.
- A blanket density of 50 dwellings per hectare is very high when a proportion of each site needs to be set aside for Biodiversity Net Gain on accessible open space.
- We support the maximisation of the delivery of any housing in the existing built-up areas by using higher densities, brownfield sites and under-utilised land to reduce the need to build on the Green Belt.
- The Plan needs to align with the Strategy published by England’s Economic Heartland, which seeks to address increased home working, digital connectivity, and the potential need to reduce business travel and commuting.
- The Plan needs to recognise the importance of the Chilterns Chalk Streams for their biodiversity and to reduce the over- abstraction of water for domestic use.
- The Society objects to large developments on sites to be removed from the Green Belt, particularly at Maple Cross, Mill End, Kings Langley, and Batchworth Golf Course.
Please support us by submitting your own response by 20th August on the Council’s website at https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/egcl-page/new-local-plan