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East Herts Council elections: Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens set out their development manifestos





The Indie asked the four main political parties vying for control of East Herts Council in the May 4 local elections to set out their stall on development and tell voters, in no more than 250 words, about their pledges on the District Plan review, new building and social housing.

"Your Bishop's Stortford Conservative councillors will be arguing for as few new homes as possible"
"Your Bishop's Stortford Conservative councillors will be arguing for as few new homes as possible"

CONSERVATIVES

Bishop's Stortford is a great place to live and work. We have some of the best schools in the country and excellent transport links.

It is no surprise that so many people want to live in Bishop's Stortford. However, there's a limit to how many new homes can be built in Stortford without significant new infrastructure.

As the new council looks to put together the next District Plan, your Bishop's Stortford Conservative councillors will be arguing for as few new homes as possible.

We will also be stressing that our town has already taken its fair share of new housing development, and it's time for other areas to take up the burden.

We must also make sure that the District Plan reflects the aspirations of the people of our town and district. All new houses should be as energy-efficient as possible, with solar panels, heat pumps and other green technologies installed as standard. Infrastructure for electric vehicles should be included.

We must strive to ensure that as high a proportion of new housebuilding as possible is for affordable (below market rent and shared ownership) homes.

New social infrastructure is also essential in our area, including doctors' surgeries, schools, play facilities and community centres.

It is critical that the new District Plan includes a very high level of resident participation. Local people must be involved at all stages of creation of the plan.

Conservative-run Bishop's Stortford Town Council has shown how this can be achieved with the recently revised Neighbourhood Plan.

LABOUR

"Labour says to developers: You cannot creep the numbers up after permission."
"Labour says to developers: You cannot creep the numbers up after permission."

We need strict policy compliance – it's too easy for developers to disrespect planning policy. Labour says to developers: "You will meet East Herts policy in full; you will carry out the S106 agreements in full; you cannot creep the numbers up after permission."

Homes meeting community needs – Labour will prioritise truly affordable housing for key workers and local needs; housing association renting as part of a mix of tenures.

Quality, not targets – locally distinctive development through design review scrutiny and negotiation of major amendments before planning permission.

Planning responsibly – we will ban outline applications for sites already allocated in the District Plan. We will ban developers arguing that viability justifies exempting planning requirements.

Better rented standards – a new landlord registration scheme to ensure acceptable standards of private rental homes.

Revitalising town centre and local parades – free parking periods to support businesses and shoppers; improve pavements; get Hockerill pedestrian crossings done.

Reviewing the District Plan – Labour’s pledges: New housing must have insulation, solar panels and ground source heat pumps installed at the build stage.

A Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) for transport, health, education, play.

Truly affordable homes with no ifs and buts.

All the land surrounding our towns and villages is London Green Belt. We will make an East Herts Green Belt policy. It will have a strategy regulating solar farms, recreation in the Green Belt and farming diversification.

Safeguarding of neighbourhood open green spaces, allowing compulsory purchase when private-owned, and ruling out change of use.

"Liberal Democrats would put a 'pause' on any more major developments until the effects of the present ones have been fully assessed"
"Liberal Democrats would put a 'pause' on any more major developments until the effects of the present ones have been fully assessed"

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

The town is being slowly strangled by the huge new developments which have been added to its outskirts, without any upgrading of its infrastructure.

Liberal Democrats would put a "pause" on any more major developments until the effects of the present ones have been fully assessed and credible mitigations put into place.

The extra traffic coupled with the lack of new community facilities causes problems both for people living in the new homes and for longer-established residents in other parts of the town.

We would seek to provide better bus services, extending the service of the Stortford Shuttle, and investigating the options for a park-and-ride service.

We would lobby the county council to extend its Herts Lynx service. We would endeavour to provide more safe cycling and pedestrian routes to ease congestion on the roads.

In the revised District Plan, we would insist on much tougher environmental standards. Solar panels and heat pumps would be required as standard.

We would keep the requirement for developers to provide 40% of affordable housing, but we would insist that this should include a proportion for social rent.

It is a scandal that current prices for so-called affordable homes are still much too expensive for many working people, including our key workers.

"East Herts Green Party supports environmentally and socially sustainable development that does not overwhelm local services and resources"
"East Herts Green Party supports environmentally and socially sustainable development that does not overwhelm local services and resources"

GREEN PARTY

The Tories have run East Herts for most of the last 50 years and have a record of failure. It's time for change.

East Herts Green Party supports environmentally and socially sustainable development that does not overwhelm local services and resources.

Our councillors push for higher housing standards and carbon neutrality of housing to be the norm.

All new houses must be built with solar panels and heat pumps as standard, and with no gas for cooking or heating. Insulation must dramatically improve.

All development, in Bishop's Stortford and elsewhere, must fully integrate into our communities and include all services and amenities on a 15-minute city principle, ending Green Belt destruction and urban sprawl encouraged by the Conservatives, such as Stortford Fields or that proposed for Ware.

Social justice is vital in achieving environmental goals – we cannot leave lower-income residents in sub-standard housing.

Far more social housing is needed, and it must be of equal quality with private housing; poor housing ruins health, educational chances and social integration.

Cheap, regular public transport of varying kinds to meet different needs is essential both to climate goals and social justice.

We will push for East Herts to build on small initiatives like the Herts Lynx bus, to spread them to the entire district.

We will work hard to make these principles central to the East Herts District Plan review over the next couple of years.

East Herts under the Tories has a poor record on housing and social justice. That must change.



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