Conservators slammed for talks with developer planning 120 homes near Therfield Heath

The site of the proposed development next to Briary Lane. Picture: David Hatton

The site of the proposed development next to Briary Lane. Picture: David Hatton - Credit: Archant

The Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens have been accused of ‘pulling the wool over the eyes’ of the Royston community – after it emerged they have been in consultation with the firm proposing to build 120 homes near the town’s Briary Lane.

The speculative proposal by Gladman is to build the homes on land south of Echo Hill and to the east of Briary Lane, where it will also be accessed from.

Concerns have now been raised about how open the Conservators – who also operate as trustees of the Therfield Regulation Trust which owns the heath – have been about their involvement with Gladman, particularly in relation to the public inquiry that was called after they submitted an application which could lead to eight homes being build on common land at the top of Sun Hill. The Briary Lane bridleway runs through where this land joins the main heath.

Within the the minutes of a Therfield Regulation Trust meeting from November 8 last year, it states: “The trust would meet with Gladmans but not sign an agreement until after the public inquiry.”

Life-long Royston resident Richard Ketteringham told the Crow: “The inquiry and the people of Royston both had a right to be informed that Gladman had shown an interest.

“The wool has been pulled over our eyes, and all of us should feel had.

“I believe the Conservators are playing poker with someone who far outweighs them, and they putting the heath at risk – the people of Royston deserve to know.”

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When asked for comment, Conservators clerk David Smith said that chairman John King clarified the Gladman situation at their AGM last week, and that there wasn’t any more to say.

Mr King said: “Gladman came to see us last year. The first thing that they asked for was confidentiality to which we agreed.

“They then offered us an option agreement on the site at Briary Lane which would mean that we would lose control of what happened on the site so we said ‘no, thank you’.

“They became more hostile, stating that their client owned Briary Lane so we had to agree to their deal. At this point we again kindly declined their offer.

“They have offered a slightly improved offer, but we have not entered into any agreement with Gladman.

“If we receive a formal offer we will consider it as is our legal responsibility being trustees of a charity.”

The Crow contacted Gladman, but the developer declined to comment.