Therfield Heath issues addressed at conservators meeting

Therfield Heath. Picture: Matthew Gooding

Therfield Heath. Picture: Matthew Gooding - Credit: Archant

A number of issues surrounding Therfield Heath have been addressed at a meeting at Royston Town Hall last week.

Therfield Heath

Therfield Heath - Credit: Archant

The Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens chairman John King covered a number of topics on the night, including the failed attempt to deregister common land at the top of Briary Lane and Sun Hill so it could be sold off for housing and money spent on sporting facilities and the running of the heath.

The application to swap the land with land of a similar size to the west of New Road in Therfield was the subject of an eight-day public inquiry.

The inquiry ended in February last year and the decision was made by the Planning Inspectorate three months later to refuse the swap.

Mr King opened his speech by saying: “This has been an interesting year. We have had the result of the inquiry into the deregistration of the Briary Lane site.

“We are naturally disappointed with the result, but are moving forward in our management of the heath and greens.

“We are putting together an action plan so that over the next months we can engage with the public and a level of transparency into our activities.

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“We will be consulting with the public as to how they perceive the heath should be managed.

“We have had ongoing discussions with our tenants about rent and new leases, ongoing discussions with Natural England of producing a management plan for the next decade.”

The refused Gladman planning application for 107 dwellings near Therfield Heath was also mentioned by Mr King.

“I know that one of the questions that you want an answer to is the Gladman’s planning application on Heath Farm,” he said.

“As you know, the initial planning application has been refused.

“They entered into negotiations with us about the access along Briary Lane but have now stopped.

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

The heath is used by a number of sports clubs, including Royston Rugby Club, and is popular among walkers.

Mr King told the meeting that a balance between sporting interests and conserving the heath needs to be found, saying: “The relationship with the sports clubs who use the heath and the recreation ground in Therfield are important to us and we hope continues to be strong.

“We have every intention of continuing our charitable aims towards sport.

“We must also continue with the conservation work needed to keep the heath in good order.

“It is a very fine balance that we try to strike between the sporting interests of a large number of people who use the heath and the requirements of the land itself.

“There are also all those people who just come to enjoy the heath for walks with and without their dogs plus the people are concerned and interested in all the flora and fauna on the heath.”

Mr King was also keen to welcome new conservation volunteers, describing their work as valuable.

“We have long wanted to have conservation volunteers working on the heath.

“With Cynthia Combe we have someone with the drive and knowledge to organize and guide them.

“They have already done valuable work in the more sensitive area of the heath where the use of machines is not practical.”

He also confirmed that an open meeting, where people can pose their questions regarding the heath, will be in the coming months.

“We are planning an evening open meeting in Royston Town Hall in April there we will ask all the bodies with an interest in the heath and greens to make a report and take questions,” he said.

“The conservators will also report and lay out their thoughts for the future.

“They will listen to the public and endeavour to answer any questions.

He finished by reaffirming the conservators love for the heath and thank them for their work, saying: “Every one of the conservators that sits on this committee does it because they love the heath and the decisions that they take are done with the best intentions.

“May I take this opportunity to thank all of them publicly for their dedication, hard work over the last year and commitment to the organisation.”