September 17 2014 Latest news:
By Matthew Gooding
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Conservators say plans to sell part of Royston’s historic heath for development will not adversely affect the site of special scientific interest.
A planning application is set to be submitted for part of Therfield Heath, near Briary Lane, so that it can be sold to a developer and used for housing.
David Smith, clerk of the Conservators of Therfield Heath, who manage the heath and surrounding greens, told The Crow: “The area in question is separated from the Heath by Briary Lane. The majority of Therfield Heath has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
“The proposed area for development is not included in the SSSI as it has never been considered to be botanically important enough to warrant this stringent designation.
“Historically rent was paid on the site by Herts County Council when it was used as an informal play area. They decided the site it was not receiving sufficient use and ceased to pay the rent.
“The cost of maintaining this area, grass cutting and maintaining the encroaching sycamore trees uses money which the Conservators consider would be better spent supporting existing sporting facilities on the Heath and maintaining those areas of the Heath which are botanically important, in line with their remit.”
If the land near Briary Lane is sold, a piece of woodland adjacent to the heath will be purchased to replace it, and any profits from the sale will be put back into the running of the heath.
“The Conservator’s opinion is that the acquisition of this new land will make a positive contribution to the Heath,” said Mr Smith. “It will diversify the ecological value and biodiversity and safeguard an additional and attractive feature that will be of considerably more benefit to the local population than the proposed application site.”
Therfield Heath was designated a SSSI due to the large number of rare plants and wildlife that are found there.
Cllr Lindsay Davidson, chairman of the Royston Town Council planning committee, said: “The Conservators gave us a verbal presentation, but we’re not able to make any comment until a formal planning application is put in front of us.”
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