Homes must be welcomed, but there are concerns

PUBLISHED: 09:58 27 May 2008 | UPDATED: 22:19 26 October 2009

Sir - There is no doubt that local residents will be concerned about the prospect of 10,000 homes being built in the area by 2021. I share those concerns, in particular that the borough council may bow down to pressure to build on the precious green area

Sir - There is no doubt that local residents will be concerned about the prospect of 10,000 homes being built in the area by 2021.

I share those concerns, in particular that the borough council may bow down to pressure to build on the precious green areas in Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City. But we must separate the issue of whether more housing is needed and the question as to where it should go.

The case for more homes in Hertfordshire and the south east is overwhelming.

People are living longer and need homes for longer.

Less fortunately, families are increasingly likely to divorce, thus increasing the number of households looking for accommodation.

The current housing stock is clearly insufficient - the shortage of homes contributes to prices so high that young people on average incomes have little chance of buying their own homes. The shortage of rented accommodation poses the danger that staff vital for local companies will not be able to afford to live here in the county.

A significant increase in the number of houses and flats in Hertfordshire is vital if young people are to have any chance of living and working near their home towns.

The question as to where those homes should be located is more complex.

Of the 10,000 homes planned, several thousand have already been built on the former British Aerospace site without any major damage to our environment.

My concern is not so much whether our infrastructure can cope - developers will be forced to pay for the infrastructure required - but whether the quantity of new homes threatens the local environment that we value so highly.

This is why I am a strong supporter of the need for more homes in Hertfordshire - but am not convinced about where they should go.

As Chris Conway, the borough council planning officer wrote in your paper last week, "We are a million miles from deciding where these houses will go."

If developers propose unacceptable developments, then the council must reject them.

But we should not use our concern to obstruct the legitimate aspiration of local residents to be able to buy or rent an affordable home of their own.

Mike Hobday

Welwyn Hatfield Labour Parliamentary candidate.


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