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    The Stevenage expansion debate
    Stevenage expansion campaign.
    The campaign against expansion has been running for years

    Plans for the largest single housing development in the country have been put on hold.

    But while the short term threat of development has gone, homes still have to be built.

    WEB LINKS

    West Stevenage Plans

    CASE - Campaign Against Stevenage Expansion

    Hertfordshire County Council


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    Campaigners against proposals to build 10,000 homes on greenbelt land to the west of Stevenage say they're confident the immediate threat of development has gone.

    Herts County Council wants to review proposals in 2006, because it believes there is enough room to build the houses in urban areas.

    However, Stevenage Borough Council disputes this and criticises the County Council for taking the easy option.

    No matter what happens 49,000 homes DO have to be built in Hertfordshire by 2016.

    So what's the answer? What do YOU think?

    your comments

    Mark, The land of plenty Saturday 1 February 2003
    If you want an affordable house in a nice area, close to a city that is the fastest growing in the UK. A city that has created more jobs than any other outside London. A city that has a large portfolio of national and international businesses, and is the UK's 3rd largest centre for finance. A city that is ranked as the UK's 3rd best for shopping, with the first branch of Harvey Nicks outside Knightsbridge. A city that has more parkland than every other UK city, and lovely countryside on it's doorstep. A city that is the UK's highest for average earnings outside London. A city that is only 2 hours by train from your very own Stevenage station. Where? LEEDS! Improve your quality of life, have more disposable income, and move up north. It used to be grim, it's not anymore!

    Lee Harding, Stevenage Thursday 26
    December, 2002
    YES, YES, YES... The Expansion Should Happen...MAKE STEVENAGE GROW!!!

    John, Letchworth Friday 6
    December, 2002
    Ah well, by the time my children want to buy a house I expect they will need to be a millionare just to afford the deposit, or commute from Yorkshire.

    Ray, Stevenage Thursday 28
    November, 2002
    I have lived in Stevenage all my life (28 years). My parents have also lived here for nearly 50 years. Of course no-one wants homes to be built on green belt land but of course these houses are needed. People say that these homes will give local people the chance to purchase houses in the area. Get real the vast majority of these homes will be over £150K. Can the local people afford these prices. I have friends who have called Stevenage thier home for all thier life but because of the ridiculous house prices, have had to move 15-20 miles north in order to find affordable property. If these houses are built they will not be used to house Stevenage residents who are on low incomes or homeless but instead will be brought by either wealthy businessmen as an investment or by people from the city who are unable to afford homes in thier area. In my opinion the government need to do more to help first time buyers. How can people afford to buy thier own property when it is costing 4 or 5 times thier annual salary to buy a 2 bedroom terraced house in a crime ridden part of thier town. There is no answer to this argument. If the houses are needed then build them. But the council need to do more to ensure they are filled by local people who need them and not by greedy people who have more money than morals.

    Greg Laing, Knebworth Thursday 14
    November, 2002
    To Amanda of Stevenage who thinks building west of Stevenage will provide affordable housing. Rubbish, the developers propose to build as little affordable housing as possible, there is no profit in it. The Chief Executive of Persimmon PLC has admitted that not much more than 10% will be made up of such housing. Build on the old BAe site in Gunnels Wood, sorry I forgot, Stevenage needs another supermarket. If we are to prevent England vanishing under roads and houses, we have to alter the tax environment which makes it cheaper to build luxury housing on green fields than to build decent affordable housing on brownfield sites.

    Ian Curtis, Stevenage Friday 8
    November, 2002
    I'm doing a project on this for GCSE. I think that Hertfordshire needs houses but not all in one place. If they're going to build these houses they're going to have to improve Stevenage as a whole e.g. facilities and infrastructure.

    John, Letchworth Friday 11 October, 2002
    Stevenage was originally built (late 40's & 50's) at quite low density. Over the years each new phase of development has had less space per house. If people really want to save Agri-industrial land (sorry country side) west of Stevenage, then Stevenage can take more houses. Fairlands Valley (Park) could be a whole new estate, the land west of Grace Way could be developed as could the patch of grass on Claymores, and the roundabouts, and the cycle tracks, and the ... . I expect the residents of Stevenage could easily identify hundreds of plots of land for new houses, and save the council the cost of cutting all that grass. The question has to be asked is this in filling better than developing west of Stevenage?

    Ethan, Stevenage Friday 4 October, 2002
    I think that Stevenage is in need of new houses, to revive the town to being as nice as Milton Keynes. A larger town with enough investment to bring in jobs, and the closness to London that Stevenage has

    John, Stevenage Thurs 26 September, 2002
    We all agree build on suitable brownfield sites first. But the majority of District Councils in Hertfordshire know they have too few such sites to meet current and future housing needs hence the need for a sustainable urban extension at West Stevenage for 5,000 homes. With out West Stevenage the housing waiting lists in Stevenage and North Herts will continue to grow and major local employers may well have to relocate in order to meet the housing needs of their staff.

    Jayne, Stevenage Wed 18 September, 2002
    I find some of these comments a little contradictory. They complain about the loss of open spaces and green fields,but where do they live!-Answer-On land that was once open fields.They are the very people who are responsible for the need to build more homes by moving to Stevenage in the first place. If they really like open spaces and counryside there is plenty available in Scotland, Wales or even the Falkland Islands! How many of those complaining have acually lived in the town for more that 25 years-very few no doubt.My family has lived in Stevenage since before WW2.My grandmother lived in Shephall when it was a small village.We need these homes and get fed up hearing comments from people complaining about the new developements when they are responsible for the need to expand the town.

    Rebecca, Stevenage Wed 18 September, 2002
    Many of those against the new homes appear to forget where their homes are built. Fifty years ago most of the Stevenage area was open countryside but Stevenage was built up to provide homes for people despite the views of the existing population.This was a correct decision then and the correct decision now would be to build these homes. Many of those protesting against the new developements are hypocrites.They have their homes (contrary to the wishes of people who protested 50 years ago) but as another person said - they are in their homes and want to pull up the drawbridge and not allow any one else the same right to a home. If they are against new buildings and want more open spaces they could always demolish their houses and live in a tent! They should stop being so selfish and think of those who have no home of their own. Build more affordable houses NOW.

    Susan, Stevenage Tues 17 September, 2002
    We have lived in Stevenage for 18 years and have seen it change from a pleasant, green-verged town to a mass of concrete made to accomodate the growing numbers of vehicles. The loss of more of our green belt to housing will increase the pollution factor ten-fold. Some housing is needed, but not the luxury developments that are most often seen and out of the reach of many locals.

    Christopher, Knebworth Tues 17 September, 2002
    My fiancée and I both work for the NHS (based at the QEII, Welwyn), we are first time buyers and I am the Estates Surveyor for the Trust. I feel reasonably well qualified to deal with some of the factual issues (although I am not a 'local' as I am from North Yorkshire). Firstly, the assumption that we can build 10,000 homes on Brownfield land is laughable. The number of Brownfield sites in the area are nowhere near big enough. Brownfield is also more expensive to build on (in most cases, it has to be treat as contaminated land), therefore pushing up the building costs (passed on to the purchaser). It is also more difficult to get plant and equipment to Brownfield sites (JCB's and dumper Trucks will be taking over the streets of Stevenage for the next 10 years). They will also be 'irrationally' planned ('Build it where you can'), rather than being developed with local issues and infrastructure taken into account. Secondly, the concept that the Country is turning to concrete is far from the truth. Fly over the UK, and all you see is green fields, with sporadic developments. This is just NIMBY'ism at its most self-obsessed. There is a simple consideration when admiring the view; if you don't own it, don't rely on it. This is a case of the selfish 'Little Englander' taking over. Thirdly, on hearing the development is 'postponed' (cancelled), my fiancée and I have decided that we will never be able to buy in this area, and therefore we must look elsewhere in the Country for employment. The local Health Economy will loose two employees who are dedicated and enjoy their jobs. We will not be alone in making this decision. I just hope that the parents of the little girl paraded on TV last night to say how pleased she was that there will be no new houses in this area don't feel too annoyed when she can't afford a house in 10 years time...

    Jess, Hitchin Tues 17 September, 2002
    Tony from Harlow makes a valid and important point when he says that most of these new home will be used to accomodate people fleeing from London areas. These people then clog up the surrounding roads trying to get back into London. It's telling that these home will be built so close to the existing A1 M motorway, thus crushing any possible plans to expand this road into 3 carridgeways and ease congestion. The developers will also not have to pay conpensation for noise levels from this road as it was there before the houses. As for Paul from MK - I trust that you are 100% behind Mr Prescott's plans to further increase the Mk sprawl? All in all - you can't 'build' a community in three years. Infilling on browfield sites may reduce the green areas within a town, but it will bring change at a more measured pace, rather than all at once.

    Pauline , Stevenage Tues 17 September, 2002
    We are so very pleased that the proposed West of Stevenage development plans have been put on hold. Contrary to some comments on this page – my partner and I know of no one who wants the development to go ahead. We studied the proposals for the new development and with every sentence we felt ourselves become angrier and angrier. The “justification” for expansion read like a script for a new series of Noddy in Toy Town i.e. the land of make believe. Why can’t people in power and the developers, who obviously stand to gain a significant financial benefit, understand that these houses are NOT WANTED and are NOT necessary either now or in the future. We believe that the vast majority of people in Stevenage and the surrounding area do not want what little green belt area is left torn up, laid to concrete and destroyed for ever. Having lived in Stevenage for over 40 years – we have witnessed during this time field after field after field being lost to bricks and mortar, concrete and tar. Our flora and fauna have suffered and lost too much already and we simply cannot allow our remaining countryside to be destroyed still further. There is a shortage of jobs – we seemingly cannot recruit enough teachers – doctors and the like so if the expansion did take place – the queues and waiting times will get even longer.

    Paul Griffiths, Milton Keynes Tues 17 September, 2002
    It's all well and good talking about building homes in less prosperous areas - but these are areas with no jobs, so who wants to live there? If we don't build homes somewhere then how will our children have affordable homes to live in? The Government's target is to build 60% of new homes on brownfield land - that leaves 40% that will have to be built on greenfield sites. In the South of England it will be impossible to meet the 60% target. A well- planned development of 10,000 homes in West Stevenage is better than a scattering of small developments on the fringes of villages across the county. The 10,000 homes will be properly serviced with schools, shops, transport links etc. The new residents will breathe new life into the town - supporting the economic case for the regeneration of the town centre. Don't deny others the chance of a home of their own - a chance that! m! any objectors to this and similar developments have probably already benefited from - but now they want to pull up the drawbridge and stop anyone else getting on board.

     

    Kathryn, Stevenage Mon 16 September, 2002
    Surely there's enough brownfield sites that could be redeveloped in Stevenage. Why do they have to start on the greenfield?

    Oliver, Stevenage Mon 16 September, 2002
    I think we should be concentrating on redeveloping the brownfield sites and less prosperous areas, rather than simply building new houses.

    David, Stevenage Mon 16 September, 2002
    They should build these houses because there are too many people without homes. Perhaps the protesters would think differently if they were unable to buy a house in this area. More affordable houses should be built for young local people.

    James, Stevenage Mon 16 September, 2002
    The protester on Look East stated that 99 per cent of Stevenage people are against this scheme. Why not put this assumption to the test with a vote? Everyone I know would like to see these houses built. The scheme would provide many years of employment in the building trades and homes for local people who are unable to obtain council/housing association homes.The protesters are very selfish, they just want to protect their own cosy environment and have no regard for people without a home of their own.

    Tony, Harlow Mon 16 September, 2002
    Why does Hertfordshire have to build 49,000 new homes? Is it for locals? Or more immigration from London? I live in Harlow, Essex and we are just coming to the end of building 4,000 new homes, supposedly they were for the third generation of the town. The vast majority of the homes went to people from London, they helped push up house prices leaving the third generation of Harlow unable to afford the houses. I suspect that the same kind of problem is happening in Stevenage. Unless there is a complete re-think of council housing policy by the government the only hope youngsters in Harlow have is to live on the social security as wages cannot keep up with house prices.

    David Sibley, Huntingdon Mon 16 September, 2002
    This country is stupid, we have very little in the way of fields left and all the authorities want to do is build upon them. Let's go up, no not the tiny holes of the sixties, but proper apartments. I lived for 4 years in a 2 bedroom appartment in Italy with more floor space than the average 3/4 bedroom house (including garage) has in this country, grow up the UK. Think like adults and accept the fact that not everyone can live in a house (minute box)! we still need farm land to grow crops on.

    Amanda, Stevenage Mon 16 September, 2002
    To those that are against the West of Stevenage - go to the library in town and look at the plans for building within Stevenage. This will include any space that a home will fit on. These small builds will not be homes for rent, but will consist of high price private build, how many of our children have to leave this town because they cannot afford to buy and housing to rent is not available? The young men of Stevenage have no chance of getting a council/RSL flat until they are approaching 30. No wonder that so many choose to start a family, thus forcing the council to find homes (usually designated OAP accomadation). I was against the West of Stevenage until I had the chance to look at the alternative, this Government has ordered that the homes be built in this area and that means by 2016 they will be built, Stevenage will loose all available green space, garage blocks will be demolished to make way for the housing, playing fields and the Valley will all go. Stevenage will be joined to Knebworth as the land between will go for building if they do not build the West. It's not nice and I too, remember playing on farm land that is now covered by housing but with the ever growing population and need for affordable housing I see the West of Stevenage as the best option. Overcrowding in the town will create more problems as seen in the inner cities, do not be fooled into thinking that this will not affect you, the problems will spread out as is evident if you go to any area that surrounds a city. In short NO there are not enough brown field sites to take this development. Ask this, where do the Councillors that oppose the West of Stevenage live? Do they live in Stevenage?

    Bill Hoyes, Stevenage Mon 16 September, 2002
    If more homes are needed, on grounds of sustainability they should be built preferably on brownfileld land within, but if that is not available, on carefully selected fringes of the settlements that generate the need. That way will minimise the need for long journeys to present work places, social and familial destinations. To try to cobble a mini new town opposite the well-planned new town of Stevenage, on the other side of a motorway bypass is unbelievably stupid welcomed only by Councillors who wish to extend their hegemony.

    Rob, Hitchin Mon 16 September, 2002
    If the future Herts houses are to be built on Brownfield why do Southern Districts have a moratorium on further Brownfield development.

    Peter Wilson, Welwyn Mon 16 September, 2002
    Many waste/set-a-side land of no major importance could be used. Instead woodland & Green sites are being destroyed as if there is an endless supply. Too many people have second properties and vacant properties/sites can be redeveloped.

    Steve, Buntingford Mon 16 September, 2002
    Mr Blair and his northern cronies should look to accommodate businesses in their constituencies - then we would not have a deficit of homes in Herts. Perhaps the northerners could make room for large firms (like T Mobile, Glaxo, etc.) and asylum seekers and the Londoners looking for a better life (or cheaper home). Then we Herts folk can live our life as we have always done.

    Mark , Hitchin Mon 16 September, 2002
    I echo the comments from other people who would like to develop brownfield sites first. This may cost more, but at least we will still have some countryside left !

    James, Cambridge Mon 16 September, 2002
    The great pressure to develop is ultimately because of the fact that the housing requirements of a whole generation are being ignored. Those who are currently 20-30 years old deserve decent, spacious, environmentally pleasant homes in which to raise their families.

    Max, Buntingford Mon 16 September, 2002
    Why do they want to build on fields in West Setvenage, when they can knoock down Stevenage and start again. They can turn Glaxo into a mega home for yuppies and well-to-do people from London.

    John Walker, Stevenage Mon 16 September, 2002
    The new houses will bring great opportunities to me. I'm a window cleaner and by my reckoning 10,000 homes equals around 1,110,000 extra windows to clean. I can employ around 600 people to clean them. Then there aren't enough people in Herts for me to employ window cleaners and then I have to bring them in and then we have to build more houses to house them! Forget it - I'd rather look at the grass in Knebworth as it is.



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