Therfield Heath inquiry: Inspector considers new evidence after complaints over Conservators’ conduct

PUBLISHED: 07:45 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 07:45 23 March 2018

The inspector of the Therfield Heath land swap inquiry, which took place in Royston last month, is considering new evidence.
 Picture: David Hatton

The inspector of the Therfield Heath land swap inquiry, which took place in Royston last month, is considering new evidence. Picture: David Hatton

Archant

The inspector at the Therfield Heath land swap inquiry is currently considering new evidence in light of a complaint that was lodged after the eight-day hearing concluded.

The site of Gladman's proposed development next to Briary Lane. Picture: David HattonThe site of Gladman's proposed development next to Briary Lane. Picture: David Hatton

The inquiry looked into whether The Therfield Regulation Trust could degregister and sell common land near Sun Hill and Briary Lane and replace it with woodland of a similar size to the west of New Road in Therfield.

However, two weeks after the inquiry closed, a speculative development of 120 homes near the heath – accessed by the Briary Lane bridleway which separates the release heathland from the heath’s Site of Special Scientific Interest – was revealed by Gladman.

The complaint, which has been seen by the Crow, was sent to the Planning Inspectorate following the land developer’s proposal.

It says that the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens – who also operate as trustees of the TRT – were aware of the speculative development before and during the inquiry, and that the sale of the release land has further implications than what may have been promoted by them at the inquiry.

The release land at the top of Sun Hill. Picture: David HattonThe release land at the top of Sun Hill. Picture: David Hatton

Parties involved were then invited to submit comments to the inspector by Monday of this week.

Don Shewan, who represented a residents’ co-operative on the panel of objectors, said: “At the inquiry, we repeatedly stated that full disclosure of TRT/Conservator plans had not been revealed.

“It would appear that constructing a new road across Therfield Heath common along Briary Lane has always been one of the primary reasons for selecting the release land for deregistration.”

Richard Ketteringham also complained on March 15 to the Planning Inspectorate, claiming the Conservators misled the inquiry.

One panoramic view looking back towards Royston taken near end of the replacement land. Picture: David HattonOne panoramic view looking back towards Royston taken near end of the replacement land. Picture: David Hatton

He told the Crow: “It’s an insult to every resident in Royston and every public inquiry in the land.

“If the outcome isn’t a ‘no’ then there should be another inquiry where the truth is heard publicly before a decision is made.”

A Planning Inspectorate spokesman said the new evidence and comments will be considered before a decision is made.

The Crow contacted the clerk to the Conservators for comment, and has not had a response.

A public consultation into a renewal application of the present outline planning permission on the release land ends on April 5. To submit your views go to pa2.north-herts.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=P4RLVQLKH3L00&activeTab=summary

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