No to homes!

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CAMPAIGNERS have shot down plans to build thousands of homes on the doorstep of Dacorum’s historic market towns.

Householders have been asked to comment on blueprints for house-building up to 2031 in the area covered by Dacorum Borough Council.

There are two options – one for 9,800 new homes and one for 11,400, which could mean up to 1,200 extra properties for Berkhamsted and 480 for Tring.

Grahame Partridge, chairman of the Save Your Berkhamsted Residents Association, said: “Berkhamsted is full in the year 2010 with 7,000 homes.

“Another 1,200 will ruin forever the character of the historic market town. This is a near 20 per cent increase. Are residents prepared for this to happen?”

Group secretary Alan O’Neill described an early proposed development for 200 homes near Egerton Rothesay School as “driven by profit motives alone.” He said: “Berkhamsted has a problem with lack of capacity of schools, doctors, dentists, care for the elderly, parking and virtually no convenient public transport south of the High Street.”

Mr Partridge warned: “Berkhamsted is in a unique location surrounded by green belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in a Chiltern valley. Its character has evolved over many centuries. It can be ruined forever in the next 20 years if we let the councils, planners and developers have their way.”

In a meeting of Berkhamsted Town Council on Monday, councillors opposed the plans and Tring Town Council has recently backed a proposal for fewer homes – totalling 330 properties in the town – under the house-building draft.

Berkhamsted Councillor Laurence Handy said: “Berkhamsted is getting a raw deal and the amount of development that is proposed is bound to change the character of the town irretrievably.”

Councillors said that Berkhamsted is being asked to permit more housing in proportion to its size than other towns in the borough.

Borough council planning chief James Doe said: “We’re receptive to any views put forward by residents and community groups, and will take all comments into consideration.”

The consultation runs until Wednesday, December 15 and can be found at www.dacorum.gov.uk/planning.

Go to www.berkhamsted.gov.uk for Berkhamsted Town Council’s response.