Conservators will attend Royston's Therfield Heath land swap inquiry and call for 'right decision to be made'

PUBLISHED: 08:26 03 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:30 03 August 2017

The land the Conservators wish to swap with another patch near Therfield.

The land the Conservators wish to swap with another patch near Therfield.

Archant

The clerk to the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens has said they will attend a public inquiry into a proposed land swap and hopes the inspector makes the "right decision".

It was confirmed on Monday that a public inquiry into the land swap application relating to Royston’s Therfield Heath will take place in January – prior to a decision being made.

The news comes after the Conservators submitted an application in March to deregister heath land near to Briary Lane and Sun Hill under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006, and swap it with woodland of the same size to the west of New Road near Therfield.

Conservators clerk David Smith said: “We’ve known that the inquiry was going to happen for some time, it was just a matter of when and where.

“My understanding is that people who made submissions to the inspectorate will be invited along to give evidence.

“I will be going as will the Conservators, and we shall be giving our evidence and setting out our case of why we think the land exchange is better for the heath.

“We believe we have a very strong case and we hope the inspector realises that – nothing has changed since we first put in the application.”

Mr Smith told the Crow in March that the land swap could bring a possible £1 million profit – raised by selling off the land to developers for eight new houses – would be spent on sports facilities and the general running costs of the heath.

This was met with mixed reaction from the people of Royston and surrounding villages, with some taking the view that the reinvestment is much needed, and others saying the landmark shouldn’t be built upon.

Mr Smith said: “We feel like a lot of support has come from the sports clubs, and people who believe it is for the good of the heath, and we are gratified with the support.”

When asked about the opposing view, he said: “I can’t understand it. People who oppose the application are nimbys. What else would you call people not thinking of the greater good of the heath? It’s complete nimbyism.

“It’s people wanting green space next to their houses. This land isn’t part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest section, it’s not being played on or maintained, so we think it’s best it’s swapped.”

When asked if this could lead to more houses being built on heath land – Mr Smith said: “90 per cent of the heath is a SSSI – we can’t build on it, it would be like knocking down Royston parish church to build houses there.

“If you want to see the heath continue and grow, you must push for the land exchange.”

A Planning Inspectorate spokeswoman told the Crow: “The public inquiry will begin on Tuesday, January 30, at Coombes Community Centre in Burns Road, continuing on subsequent days if necessary.”

The Crow is awaiting further details on the nature of the inquiry, and understands letters are to be sent out to interested parties in either late August or early September.

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