Elstree and Borehamwood Green Belt Society
The 2016 Annual General Meeting was held on
Wednesday May 11th 7.15 to 9.15 pm
in Room 3 Allum Hall, Allum Lane, Elstree, Herts
If it’s now time to renew your membership for the coming year, remember to list every member of your household, because we need to maintain and increase our numbers. This is the only way we can continue to be an effective pressure group to oppose development on the Green Belt in our area.
You can contact the Committee through
The Membership Secretary
Councillor Pat Strack at 36 Carrington Avenue, Borehamwood WD6 2HA
If you would like to become more active in the Society, for example by joining the Committee or in any other way, please let us know! You can be sure of a warm welcome.
News from the Green Belt Society 2016
Our aim is to preserve as much as possible of the peaceful green and pleasant countryside which has been left to us after the ravages of road and building developments. We live in an exceptionally fragile habitat. Major motorways radiate out from London through Hertsmere and the urban creep of London is always a threat.
The proposed construction of a huge Rail Freight Interchange Station at Park Street is the current greatest threat. If it goes ahead it will undoubtedly blight the whole area and cause endless road and rail problems. We, together with every other local conservation organisation and the local councils, oppose it. Sadly the Green Belt though protected in Law from 1947 is not immune from Central Government edict and we await the outcome of the enquiry in July with great anxiety.
It is not our policy to interfere with reasonable improvements to private property and we are in favour of brownfield development – that means, regenerating and reusing land that is already built on. We accept that a community has changing needs and cannot be preserved
as in a museum. Playing fields, community centres, libraries and some new housing have to be provided. Our quality of life depends on careful planning especially in the control of traffic.
We try to retain those buildings with interest, history or architectural merit.
The destruction over the years of many landmark houses has robbed Elstree and Borehamwood of much of its visual amenity. Removing the old cottages on Elstree High Street, the loss of the timber framed house at the Shenley Road / Theobald Street junction and the current demise of Little Organ Hall Farm are just some examples. We must preserve what is left.
We are trying to serve the community and speak up for you all.
The Elstree and Borehamwood Green Belt Society web site
At last the Elstree and Borehamwood Green Belt Society has a website! We have leapt into the 21st century after considerable travail.
The Society is very grateful to Clive Butchins of ‘Elstree-internet’ who has designed the site and given us time and advice. You should now be able to log in to : www.ebgreenbelt.org.uk and get an update on the Society’s activities together with articles of interest to conservationists and contact phone and e-mail addresses.
We plan to put out a short monthly summary of Committee meetings with dates of events, warnings of threats to the Green Belt and letters from you, the Community. Occasionally we will suggest routes for country walks with photographs of the peaceful Hertfordshire landscapes we are trying so hard to preserve for future generations. Please take a look at the site and give us your feedback. Offers of help are always welcome!
Unfortunately, despite considerable efforts by The Elstree and Borehamwood Green BeltSociety the building was not protected and the site was used for the organised dumping of vast amounts of builders’ debris. An accident with an excavator involving the partial demolition of the front and side facades was followed shortly afterwards by a mysterious fire in the early hours of the morning leaving the building looking a wreck.
Since then the owner has lodged two Planning applications to retain the ‘bunds’ (mostly comprising the rubble imported onto the site) but has subsequently withdrawn the applications in advance of their being determined.
The building now stands as a wreck and is beyond any form of economic repair. It is a significant loss to our local heritage and is an eyesore that the Elstree and Borehamwood Green Belt Society are pressing the Local Authority to resolve as quickly as reasonably possible by enforcing the relevant conditions attached to the permission granted in 2008.
Rail Freight Terminal
As reported in our 2016 Newsletter,
Rail Freight Terminal – the Battle continues
The first any of us knew about the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) was in 2006 when HelioSlough submitted a planning application to St Albans District Council for its development on 300 acres of land at Park Street designated as Green Belt.
The proposed development is huge, equivalent to 50 international football pitches and includes 5 enormous warehouses, the biggest of which is more than 1 million square feet and 4 railway tracks. The development would generate at least 3000 extra lorry movements 24/7 on our already congested local roads plus an additional 1665 cars for employees travelling to the site.
Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, informed St Albans City & District Council of his decision to grant planning permission for the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Park Street by letter dated 14 July 2014.
St Albans MP Anne Main added that ‘Just because you have permission to develop doesn’t mean you have to develop and we have to secure the land. I will be urging Hertfordshire County Council to sit down with St Albans District Council because it is still very much up in the air what Green Belt land St Albans wants to release for development.’
Earlier this year St Albans City and District Council unsuccessfully challenged the decision by the Secretary of State to grant planning permission for the SRFI at Park Street in the High Court and has been ordered to pay the Secretary of State’s costs of £13,269.
On the night of Thursday 9 July, Anne Main MP attended a public meeting on the future of the proposed rail freight site at Park Street. In a well-attended meeting in Chiswell Green, Anne was a member of a panel that included STRIFE, local politicians and Green Belt campaigners.
Anne said, ‘I felt that the meeting gave local residents the opportunity to further air their views, and get the most up-to-date information on the current state of affairs.
‘I think it’s clear that we have to look fully at a range of alternatives. Given its green belt status, unless there is a suitable proposal that is likely to be approved, the County will inevitably find itself in a difficult place.
Anne said that ‘We need to be realistic about what we can achieve in Park Street, and how best we can continue to fight against the SRFI. After a clear decision by a High Court Judge, and the County Council’s fiduciary obligations, we need to balance this against the needs of the area, and what is realistically achievable. We need to think about the art of the possible and look at all viable alternative proposals.’
One of the issues raised at the meeting was the petition against the rail freight terminal. The St Albans MP said in relation to this matter, ‘I am urging you, if you’re a Hertfordshire resident, to sign the petition to have the matter fully debated by the County Council. We owe it to St Albans to have the County discuss this matter in full. We only have until September to reach the required 10,000 signatures.’In response to the most recent announcement by the Department for Transport (DfT) to mothball Network Rail’s capital expenditure projects, Anne wrote to the Transport Secretary, asking if this announcement will affect funding for the rail freight site. ‘There have always been questions surrounding funding for the site’ said Anne. ‘I am seeking clarity on this following the DfT’s announcement.’
There is a growing sense of unease that the SRFI is a ‘stalking horse’ for developing this part of our local Green Belt for purposes other than the SRFI. Aside from the overwhelming local opposition to the proposal, there are huge and costly infrastructure works necessary to road and rail services to serve the development. St Alban’s MP Anne Main proposed we be open to using some of the site for a residential development of local need and anything is better than the SRFI!
Throughout the long campaign, Elstree and Borehamwood Green Belt Society have supported STRIFE, the action group formed to fight the proposals by Helioslough.
We are also grateful for the support that our local MPs Oliver Dowden and Anne Maine are giving to fighting this development.
A development proposal by DLA Town Planning Ltd acting on behalf of the site owners was unveiled at a meeting of local residents at Allum Hall on 3rd November 2009. The site is on the Green Belt, is known as Fortune Oaks and is located in Fortune Lane off Barnet Lane Elstree.
The proposed scheme consisted of a number of social and private housing units with a portion of the land dedicated to social amenity use. Access to the site was to be by means of one way traffic through Summer Grove exiting via Fortune Lane into Barnet Lane
The general opinion of the residents was that the scheme was unacceptable for a number of reasons. The proposal was for a new development on Green Belt land causing unacceptable traffic flow and congestion in Summer Grove. It would further increase congestion in Fortune Lane resulting from new house owners accessing their properties and traffic from visitors to the proposed social amenity.
The developers have apparently taken cognisance of local residents’ views and have stated that they will be submitting a revised proposal in due course.
Your committee continues to monitor the situation and will update you via the website.
Update on Parkfields recreational green area
Hertsmere Borough Council has allocated £4000 for exercise equipment for those aged 8 years and over at Parkfields. This will be located near the existing play area. There will be a skier, a rowing machine, a body twist, an exercise bicycle and a crossrider all set in concrete bases. This should be in place by April 2010. The footpaths have been redefined to comply with the Ordnance Survey maps of the area. Shrubbery and small trees have been removed and solid posts installed to indicate the paths. We welcome the upgrading of this green space which is well used by local residents.
Woodcock Hill Village Green (WHVG)
Herts Countryside Management Services have been extremely helpful. Mark Carter, their officer, has visited the site several times drawn up a Management Plan, which we accepted, and run voluntary clearing sessions. Mark provides the tools and training for volunteers. He holds First Aid qualifications and has Public Liability Insurance. Without him we would not be able to work on Woodcock Hill as WHVG do not have Public Liability Insurance.
VINVOLVED is a nationally funded body working via YMCA at Watford, find volunteering opportunities for young people aged 16-25yrs old. Rosemary Willis and Anna Johns have helped out at the clearing sessions.
Last April the bench at the top of the Hill was unveiled. This one was dedicated to Leslie Parnell, a great supporter and friend of WHOSE! (Woodcock Hill Open Space for Ever!)
May and June saw evening clearing work undertaken by Borehamwood District Explorer Scouts. Boys and girls from the unit and their leaders worked hard to beat failing light.
In June ditch clearing behind the houses atByron Ave saw a whole range of rubbish removed. Letters were delivered to all the residents in Byron asking them not to throw household and garden rubbish onto the field but to use their bins. William Sutton leafleted their tenants.
As part of E&B/wood Town Festival a picnic was held on Woodcock Hill in July. James Clappison MP and his family, the Mayor of Hertsmere, Rosemary Gilligan, deputy mayor of the Town, Anne Mitchell, and Cllr.Morris Bright and family were amongst the many people that enjoyed the day. A nature tour was conducted and leaflets for a history tour were available. The weather was very kind. Ann Goddard’s Woodcock Hill cake was much enjoyed. Rosemary Willis provided arts and crafts work for the younger attendees.
The August clearing day was not well attended but we all enjoyed the social aspect and Sandra’s cheesecake.
A big thank you to Tesco who provided drinks and refreshments for all our events.
In the autumn we held our first AGM and a ran a Jazz Evening. Jim Philips’ Jazz Band had all our toes tapping. Most of the autumn was spent applying for grants.
Hertsmere Borough Council provided grants for clearing the brambles and vegetation.Watling Chase Community Forest provided funding to help build a kissing gate at the bottom of the Hill to allow pedestrian access but prevent motor bikes entering the field. Ward Initiative money paid for better access to the Hill at Milton Drive and two Welcome Boards. A motor bike inhibitor will be fitted at Milton Drive. County funding will pay for an interpretation Board. Affinity Sutton have agreed to mend the fence taken down by their tenant at Byron Avenue. BRX a business group ran a quiz evening and donated £200 to our funds. Thank you to the Elstree and Borehamwood Green Belt Society for their donation. We can pay off the legal debt we incurred.
The Hill clearing proved a bonus as a greater amount of space was available for sledging in this very snowy winter of 2009 – 10. No clearing has taken place so far this year as the weather has been too bad but we were waiting for the contractors to do their work. Thank you to a very active committee. Plans are underway to run the picnic as part of the 2010 Town Festival again, to enter a float in the parade and to run a stall at Families Day.
Thank you to Clive Butchins for setting up the Woodcock Hill website and managing it so well. www.woodcockhill.org.uk