‘No to your gypsies; yes to lots of homes’

Protestors from Hands off Tring's Green Belt unhappy about plans for housing and travellers site - pictured at the site just off Icknield Way
Protestors from Hands off Tring's Green Belt unhappy about plans for housing and travellers site - pictured at the site just off Icknield Way

More than 20 people were turned away from a meeting when they turned up to speak out against plans to build five gypsy pitches and up to 200 homes.

The proposals – made under the LA5 masterplan of Dacorum Borough Council’s core strategy for development until 2031 – were first announced a month ago.

They are being drawn up in anticipation of population growth and a new demand for homes in Tring, where more than 11,500 people now live.

The properties would be built on Green Belt land in west Tring alongside an expansion of the cemetery and industrial estate between Icknield Way and Aylesbury Way.

A petition against the plans has been signed by more than 1,000 people and a new group has been formed called Hands Off Tring’s Green Belt (HOTGB).

It has more than 250 members on social networking website Facebook.

Spokesman Samantha Davis said: “We do not feel that Dacorum Borough Council has taken into account how this development will impact Tring without significant investment in infrastructure.

“This is going to impact schools, doctors, dentists and transport links which are already overstretched.

“There is no provision in this development to support any of these local services.”

More than 70 people went to a meeting of Tring Town Council on Monday to voice their opposition to the plans.

But at least 24 of them were turned away after it was ruled that having more than 50 people in the room would be against fire regulations.

Simon Icke, of Long Plough, Aston Clinton, said: “No one was notified in advance of this maximum. Call this local democracy?”

But the town council said it was not expecting so many people at the meeting, and another meeting will be held from 7.30pm on Monday, November 3, at Tring’s Victoria Hall.

During Monday’s meeting, town councillors decided to support the homes proposal – but object to plans for the five gypsy or traveller pitches.

Nick Hollinghurst – who is a town, borough and county councillor for Tring – said if the homes do not go ahead, it could mean the failure of Dacorum’s core strategy.

This could lay it open to challenges by property companies who own individual parcels of land across the area.

Mr Hollinghurst said: “In other words it would be a bit of a free for all and we could end up with developments in areas that nobody considers appropriate. That’s the danger.

“It would be disastrous for us to fail to achieve an agreed strategy.”

The core strategy has been more than eight years in the making and has already been approved by the Planning Inspectorate.

Mr Hollinghurst said the traveller pitches should not be part of the development – as they would be on the edge of the town, far from schools and other facilities.

He said: “It’s not an ideal place and Tring already has a traveller site in Long Marston, so I think other options should be considered.

“It should be relocated elsewhere – preferably more central within the borough and not on the edge.”

He said that he would also be pushing Herts County Council to ‘firm up the current tentative plans for school expansion’.

He said: “We are already at capacity and will need more pupil places in the future.”

He said the county council suggested in 2010 that an extra form of entry for every year group could be provided either Dundale or Grove Road School in Tring.

He added that the LA5 development isn’t expected to have been finished for at least five years – so there is plenty of time for extra infrastructure to be provided.

He said: “There’s no need to panic.”