County mounts legal challenge over regional plans

PUBLISHED: 12:02 24 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:47 11 May 2010

Cllr Robert Gordon

Cllr Robert Gordon

A LEGAL challenge is to be mounted over the Government s East of England plan. The go-ahead to challenge the proposals has come from Herts County Council. But the Labour group at County Hall has condemned the move as gesture politics . Group leader Cllr

A LEGAL challenge is to be mounted over the Government's East of England plan.

The go-ahead to challenge the proposals has come from Herts County Council.

But the Labour group at County Hall has condemned the move as "gesture politics".

Group leader Cllr John Metcalf said: "In the unlikely event that the challenge was successful, it would only delay the plan and not change it.

"This is gesture politics," said Cllr Metcalf. "They know they have little or no chance of success."

Cllr Metcalf that the spending of an estimated £50,000 on the legal challenge would be a waste of money.

But Cllr Robert Gordon, the leader of the ruling Conservative group on the county council, said: "The Government has presided over a flawed process and has left us with no choice but to challenge the plan through the courts."

In May, the Government published the plan - a blueprint for between the next 20 and 30 years - which would see the creation of 83,200 homes and 68,000 jobs in Hertfordshire up to 2021.

Cllr Derrick Ashley, executive member for planning, said: "The implications of this scale of growth are profound and cannot be underestimated.

"Hertfordshire is already one of the most densely populated counties.

"This development would bring huge pressure on our environment."

He said: "The county council and the people of Hertfordshire have constantly warned the Government that without a massive investment in infrastructure this scale of growth is untenable and unsustainable."

Cllr Gordon said that the county council had been "seeking to persuade the Government" to moderate the proposals.

"We cannot go to law merely because we disagree with the Government's conclusion, but our legal advisors tells us that we do have grounds on which to challenge the validity of the process leading to the plan.

"Throughout the consultation process it seemed the Government had a clear view about its intended outcome and that it could override local concern."

He said he was "reluctant" to see a legal hearing, but hoped that the outcome would lead to an "open and balanced" assessment of the impact of future growth and revised proposals.

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