Plan to build affordable homes near Potters Bar opposed by activists

PUBLISHED: 16:00 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 11 July 2019

The site of the proposed development would be at land to the east of Firs Wood Close. Picture: Google street view.

The site of the proposed development would be at land to the east of Firs Wood Close. Picture: Google street view.

Archant

A plan to build 26 affordable homes, near Potters Bar, has been opposed by local activists and the parish council.

Google says it would take 12-13 minutes to cycle to Potters Bar train station. Picture: Google street view.Google says it would take 12-13 minutes to cycle to Potters Bar train station. Picture: Google street view.

Watford Community Housing wants to build the housing - comprising 15 three-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom family houses - at Firs Wood Close in Northaw.

But local activist group Save Cuffley and Northaw Green Belt (SCANGB) and the Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council are strongly opposing the plans.

The group has asked its members to launch planning objections on grounds, which Graham Wright of Swing Ltd - an agent for the owners of the Firs Wood Close site - has called "totally wrong".

SCANGB and the Parish Council have said building on the site would contravene planning laws as the site is not adjoining another settlement.

The location of firs wood close. Picture: Google street view.The location of firs wood close. Picture: Google street view.

However Mr Wright dismissed the claims, pointing out that there are 50 plus houses near Firs Wood Close.

Another claim, by the action group and local council, is that there is zero infrastructure to support the planned affordable homes and no ability for tenants to get anywhere but by car.

In response, Mr Wright pointed out most people have cars and, though the current footpaths are not ideal for walking, they are accessible.

"This offers affordable housing that is not currently available in the area, and people are desperate for it." he said.

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Swing Ltd's Brian Dunlop also questioned SCANGB and Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council's claims that location next to a wildlife habitat would have an impact.

"There was a greyhound racing association there since 1933," Mr Dunlop said.

"It died off in the 70s and was then closed in the 1980s."

The developers also say environmental assessments by arboricultural specialists, TMA Consultants, and Green Environmental Consultants Ltd have made sure there is no wildlife impact.

Reports by both consultants concluded that there are no protected species and it complies with the requirements of tree planning policy.

Watford Community Housing's Group Director of Partnerships Gareth Lewis said he appreciates the concerns by residents.

He said: "However, with housing in such short supply, we believe that these concerns need to be balanced with the desperate need for affordable homes for families within the district."

Barry Knichel of SCANGB, when asked to respond about the developments, said:

"Planning laws can be quite mixed about where you can build, some of it is very black and white.

"Ultimately, its down to local planning officers to make this interpretation and councillors to support it or not - our role is to inform them of the local perspective which should be an important part of the decision making process."

You can view the planning application online here: planning.welhat.gov.uk/planning/display/6/2019/1370/MAJ.

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