Berkhamsted developer challenges Dacorum Borough Council’s ‘unsound’ homes-building plans

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A developer that wants to build 800 new homes on Green Belt land in Berkhamsted will challenge the core strategy for 1,180 new homes in the town.

Dacorum Borough Council’s strategy was approved by councillors in a landslide vote at Hemel Hempstead’s Civic Centre on Wednesday. There were four votes against it, one abstention and 36 in favour.

Grand Union Investments says that the planning document for homes building between 2006 and 2031 does not provide enough sites to meet the area’s need for housing. It says the council has breached the National Planning Policy Framework by releasing insufficient Green Belt land to meet housing demand.

A report to the council’s cabinet, reporting the firm’s grounds for legal challenge, says: “Taken with the need to plan for a 15-year period, these are serious defects.”

A letter to the council from solicitor Paul Winter, acting on behalf of Grand Union Investments, describes the core strategy as an ‘unsound development plan’.

The firm has previously suggested that based on 2008 Office for National Statistics forecasts there should be 2,871 homes built in Berkhamsted between 2006 and 2031.

The company argued that its scheme, which would be built on a long strip of land next to the A41, should go ahead alongside core strategy plans for the town.

Both the company’s and the council’s figure include the hundreds of homes already built in Berkhamsted between 2006 and present day.

Dacorum Borough Council says its legal advice is that Mr Winter’s concerns have already been addressed by the authority. Weaknesses in the core strategy highlighted by the Planning Inspectorate have also now been rectified, the council says.