Plans for more than 1,000 new homes in Berkhamsted could put strain on town

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Plans to build 1,180 homes in the Berkhamsted area could put pressure on its roads, water supply and sewerage system, the planning inspectorate heard today (Tuesday).

Dacorum Borough Council’s plan is part of a core strategy to build 11,300 new homes in the borough between 2006 and 2031.

The planning inspectorate will have to approve the plans, which aim to meet the demands of a growing population, after a two-week examination into the proposal ends on Friday.

Alan O’Neill, from Save Your Berkhamsted Residents Association, today (Tuesday) said that the plans could lead to hundreds of extra cars on the town’s already-congested roads.

An urban transport plan on how to deal with this will not be formalised until spring, the meeting heard.

Mr O’Neill said: “We have absolutely no idea of what might be done to ameliorate the situation.

“The fact that there is talk of an urban transport plan is not nearly good enough. We are really worried of what may happen when all these cars try to go down the High Street.”

Herts Highways said road improvements would support the home-building.

Early plans are also being drawn up to change the former Berkhamsted Police Station into a base for homes and small businesses, the meeting heard.

Northchurch Parish Council chairman Alan Fantham criticised plans to build 180 homes on the site of an Egerton Rothersay School playing field.

He said: “Already the water supply is inadequate and the sewerage system struggles to cope as well.”

He said people who live in Darr’s Lane, near the Durrants Lane school, have to plan their showers ‘very carefully’ to avoid water shortages.

But Jeremy Woolf, for the school, Herts County Council and developer Taylor Wimpey, said this would be resolved before any building work took place.

He said bus services could be improved to help the new neighbours get about and that there would be a larger playing field for the school and new footpaths.

He said: “The nation is in housing crisis and the houses have got to go somewhere.”

The firm Grand Union Investments (GUI) has an alternative plan to build 800 on Green Belt land near Swing Gate Lane, which it has put to the planning inspectorate.

But Berkhamsted Residents Action Group accused its representatives of using misleading data to suggest the town’s population will grow by much more than is projected.

Chairman Antony Harbidge said: “They have just supplied reams and reams of figures to bamboozle everybody and have not given out the actual figures of mathematics to the people whose town they are trying to ruin.”

GUI representatives denied this and said although their development would be on the Green Belt, the area has already been damaged by the development of the A41.

Others said new homes would place a strain on bus services – something developers deny.