Conservators withdraw application for housing on common land in Royston

PUBLISHED: 07:01 26 July 2018

The conservators wanted to deregister common land near Briary Lane and sell it off for housing. Picture: David Hatton

The conservators wanted to deregister common land near Briary Lane and sell it off for housing. Picture: David Hatton

David Hatton

The Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens have withdrawn their renewal application for the development of eight homes on heathland in Royston.

The entrance of the replacement land to the west of New Road in Therfield. Picture: David HattonThe entrance of the replacement land to the west of New Road in Therfield. Picture: David Hatton

The move comes three months after the decision was made by the Planning Inspectorate to reject the proposal of common land near Briary Lane being swapped with land in Therfield and sold for housing – which could have brought £1.4m for sporting facilities and heath reinvestment.

The conservators manage the heath under the Therfield Regulation Trust, and the withdrawal comes after North Herts District Council planning officer opinion – that the inquiry decision is now a material consideration in determining the application to renew the permission for housing on the site – was disclosed to their agent.

Clerk David Smith said: “The result of the public inquiry was quite clear and the conservators are acting accordingly. The conservators have no intention of trying to overturn the inspector’s decision.

“The inspector refused the application to de-register the site, so there is little point in pursuing a planning application. In the circumstances, naturally the application has been withdrawn.

The inquiry into the degregistration of a portion of heathland near Briary Lane and Sun Hill was held over eight days at Coombes Community Centre in Royston. Picture: David HattonThe inquiry into the degregistration of a portion of heathland near Briary Lane and Sun Hill was held over eight days at Coombes Community Centre in Royston. Picture: David Hatton

“A contract has been placed for the appropriate area to be mown. Part of the land will remain ‘wild’ as evidence produced at the inquiry suggested that wildlife in that area should remain undisturbed. The Briary Lane area land will continue to be part of the heath and will be maintained as such.

“The conservators have funds available to continue to maintain the heath in the way that it has been maintained for many years. All the improvements that they have been able to make over recent years will be maintained. “

The result of the inquiry has not in any way damaged the conservators’ ability to carry out their functions.

“However an opportunity to obtain extra funding that would have allowed further development of the heath has been lost. The Conservators will continue to look for opportunities to support the future of the heath.

“The conservators will be holding further open meetings in Royston, the next is planned for Thursday, October 11.”

Objector Don Shewan, who represented a people’s co-operative of residents at the public inquiry in February, said: “Those who have opposed conservators’ plans to sell part of our common land are delighted with the news that a renewal of the planning application has now been withdrawn.

“Hopefully future custodians of our common land will resist any encouragement to make the same expensive mistake again.”

“Local residents, trying to be collaborative, have repeatedly offered conservators ideas for use of the site.

“Our suggested plan would help the trustees finance and manage its upkeep. The proposal would initially help to restore the children’s play area for the summer holidays, and then, in the future, help to manage the trees and consider the best way to conserve the ecology.”

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