The story so far…

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

by David Tossell

In early August 2009 some Berkhamsted residents became aware of the ongoing consultation being run by Dacorum Borough Council canvassing opinion on a series of proposals laid out in The Emerging Core Strategy, a document prepared by the council in response to The East of England Plan. A flyer was hastily prepared and distributed to a number of homes which would bear the brunt of development associated with the council’s proposals.

The reaction was immediate and resulted in a meeting being held for any residents interested in learning more about the proposed developments. Our initial priority was to bring these proposals to the attention of as many local residents as possible and encourage them to respond to the council prior to the consultation deadline of 28 August. A programme of knocking on doors was established, providing copies of questionnaires and other information to residents who, for the most part, were completely unaware of the ongoing consultation and scale of proposed development.

The depth of outrage at the council’s proposals which we experienced on the doorstep led to the creation of Save Your Berkhamsted and a determination to leave no stone unturned to ensure local views and concerns were heard.

We lobbied Berkhamsted Town Council and managed to force an amendment to their meeting agenda of 24 August 2009 thereby securing an opportunity to air our views and impress upon them the need for a strong response to the Borough council’s proposals. In the 3 weeks leading up to the meeting, our doorstep canvassers spoke with between 5% and 10% of the town’s residents and all responses were firmly against the proposals. More than 2 dozen residents attended the town council meeting and I spoke out on behalf of those residents outlining a series of objections to the proposed developments. The Gazette ran an article (26 August 2009) on this meeting and have since published several letters from angry residents citing their objection to the proposals and criticising Dacorum Borough Council for both the timing of the consultation period and lack of publicity surrounding such a fundamental issue.

Following publication of the Town Council’s response to DBC’s proposals it is clear that our initial efforts have borne fruit since the issues mentioned in their leaflet mirror the fundamental objections raised by us at the August meeting!

This is just the beginning – from here we intend to quantify (via our on-line petition) Berkhamsted residents’ objection to the proposals and insist Herts County Council, via Dacorum Borough Council, take these into account when finalising their proposals for development across Hertfordshire. We are currently conducting bio-diversity studies across the town, reviewing pre-existing covenants and collating information which will help in our efforts to ensure Berkhamsted retains its inherent charm and rural feel.