Guest speaker: ‘LA5 plan is not where we want to be’

Two designs have been put forward to show how Tring's LA5 development could be created
Two designs have been put forward to show how Tring's LA5 development could be created

No one wants LA5. There are no officers at Dacorum rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of moving Tring town’s greenbelt boundary. It’s here because we have no choice.

The unfortunate truth is that national housing guidelines force Tring to take an allocation. It’s 480 homes by 2031. I wish it wasn’t, but it is.

Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend

We could choose to ignore the national rules but that would probably be illegal, and more importantly without a plan in place developers would in effect win the right for unfettered and chaotic development. In fact there is a situation in Ivinghoe where this is happening right now. Dacorum’s plan has been a long time coming (it started in 2008); a delay caused, I would guess, by a reluctance to do something it didn’t want to do.

Certainly, Dacorum Borough Council could have tried harder to communicate the various stages of this process more clearly and in a more timely manner.

The initial consultations had to have the word ‘draft’ on them, and with the best will in the world it is hard to get people engaged with something that is a ‘draft’. There was some press covereage, announcements from the council itself (e.g. in Dacourm digest), and a particular effort was made last year to mention this topic in public whenever we could and in our leaflets.

But more effort should have been made at the earlier stages. There were initial proposals that were discussed, the greenbelt land across the road from Tescos was considered, and this was consulted on alongside the area to the west of Tring.

Very unfortunately the conclusion of officers was that the allocation could not be met without using some greenbelt.

Concern has been raised about infrastructure (schools, roads etc), and in my feedback on the proposals I have asked that there is an independent review of the adequacy of infrastructure provision given the plans, rather than the council itself trying to assess adequacy.

This could help meet these concerns by making sure that the council doesn’t ‘mark’ it’s own work in this important area.

I am not a big fan of my Tory rivals – they’re not bad people - but I have a fundamentally different view of society and how it should be about making it better for everybody.

So why aren’t us Liberal Democrats making more fuss about this and just blaming the Tories who control the council? It’s because we don’t want to dishonestly claim that we can make the situation go away.

Nothing I can write will overcome the genuine and rightful frustration that will hang over Tring as we come to terms with this.

Older Tring residents have been through this process before and can see things with a better perspective. But I am younger, and this has not happened to me before, and I don’t like it.

Anyone with a credible Plan B should come forward and help us make it happen, but we’re between a rock and a hard place, it’s not where we want to be, but it is where we are.