Residents awoke this morning to find a digger at Harts Farm digging trenches and have sent us photos and videos showing the work.
Little Bushey Community committee member, Andy Williams said: "They’re attempting to dig 88 x 30 metre trenches across all the fields to perform archaeological analysis of the soil and clay. The aim is to be finished by Friday, however they’ve already determined that much of the area is quagmire and this won’t happen."
The company digging the trenches were unaware that the top layer of soil across the fields is spoil from the M1 construction so shallow trenches will reveal little.
Planning consultants, Chroma, have already revealed to us that Hertsmere planners require further reports and that the application will probably go to the January planning committee rather than the December one.
Said Chair, Daren Nathan: "This is alarming as it shows just how serious Redrow are about demonstrating the suitability of the site for development."
Following the abandonment of Hertsmere's Draft Local Plan earlier this year in the wake of 18,000 objections, the Council are now calling for new development sites.
Objections were clearly focused on the proposals to use thousands of acres of green belt, so now they claim to be particularly interested in sites on land that has been previously used for commercial or industrial purposes.
Among the sites which could be submitted are those capable of delivering five or more homes offering specialist care; delivering only affordable homes; accommodating offices, industrial, storage, or distribution spaces; generating employment.
They also want to hear about sites that accommodate blue-green infrastructure, such as sustainable drainage systems or natural flood managements, and sites that would ensure biodiversity net gain, meaning biodiversity levels would increase following development.
This is a clear shift of focus since the original call for sites in 2018 when Harts Farm was submitted by Redrow as a potential housing site.
Work is now underway on a new version of the Local Plan, whichis unlikely to be published until after the local elections in May where retention of the green belt is likely to be a key issue.
Hertsmere Borough Council has published three draft Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs), which provide detailed advice and guidance on a number of their current planning policies.
The draft SPDs have been prepared to help ensure development has a positive effect on the environment and residents are invited to submit any comments on them.
In 2019, the council declared a climate emergency, committing to achieving net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The Council will now be participating in the Local Government Association’s Net Zero Innovation Programme supporting the planned roll-out of these new SPDs.
The draft Sustainable Transport and Parking Standards SPD includes details on how the council intends to promote sustainable transport and parking through changes to off-street parking requirements for new developments, including new requirements for electric car charging points, and the provision of electric car clubs and bike hire schemes.
The draft Biodiversity Net Gain SPD sets out how they intend to ensure biodiversity net gain by requiring developments over a certain size to result in an increase in biodiversity.
The draft Carbon Offsetting SPD expects developers to achieve net-zero emissions on site, but unfortunately it sets out a mechanism for buying out their obligations.
The public consultation runs until 17.00 on Tuesday 15 November, but the SPDs were also approved by the council’s Executive in September for interim use on current planning applications. Any subsequent changes will be submitted to the Executive next year.
To read and comment on any of the new SPDs, go to Hertsmere's consultation portal
The public inquiry following the refusal of planning permission by Hertsmere for the 130-hectare solar farm by Aldenham will begin next week.
Conducted by the Planning Inspector it will open on Wednesday 19 October and will consider the key issues of the case, including the appeal statement and planning committee report. The documents can be viewed here.
The application for the construction and operation for 35 years of a grid-connected solar photovoltaic farm with battery storage and other ancillary infrastructure was submitted at the beginning of last year by Elstree Green Limited.
Following a six-week public consultation and extensive campaigning by Stop the solar plant, more than 1500 objections were submitted,and the application was refused permission last year.
The inquiry will be live streamed on Hertsmere's portal.
Fundraising to hire planning, environmental and transport consultants for fight Redrow's plans to develop Harts Farm into housing and a school is well under way.
Little Bushey Community have lined up planning consultants, Chroma, and have identified two further teams required to challenge the planning application going forward to the Hertsmere planning committee this autumn.
Following the AGM on Monday 3 October, donations had reached 27% of the £10,000 target.
Local residents are being urged to donate what they can in order to fight the plan to descimate Little Bushey's green belt.
Fundraising is being channelled through the organisation's Just Giving page.