New Local Plan that will protect more of district's green belt will soon go out for consultation

Press ReleaseUpdated: 18 October 2023Planning

A six-week consultation on a revised key document that will shape development in Three Rivers until 2041 will start on Friday, October 27, after it received the backing of councillors.

The new draft Local Plan proposes a new housing figure for the district of 4,852 over the next 18 years as opposed to the government's target of 11,466. The council’s preferred Lower Growth Housing Option will mean the homes will be built on previously developed land (brownfield sites), green belt sites categorised as ‘lower to moderate harm’, while others will be built using granted planning permissions. If agreed such a plan will protect 98% of the district’s precious green belt sites as hundreds of sites have been ruled out by the council as being unacceptable.

A Local Plan guides decisions on future development proposals for thousands of new homes and associated infrastructure and employment to meet its future economic and population needs,

Councillors approved the consultation at a Full Council meeting on Tuesday, 17 October.

Following this latest consultation, a revised and final version of the Local Plan will be put forward for councillors and the public to consider and comment on before it is submitted to a government-appointed inspector to review and consider whether it is legally ‘sound’. It will then go to Full Council for adoption.

Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Deputy Leader of Three Rivers District Council and Lead Member for the Local Plan, said: “As a council, we have decided to take a drastically different approach to housing growth as we believe the government’s high target will result in further unnecessary loss of our precious Green Belt land, which are loved by residents and are important for our wildlife.

“I must be honest – our plan is a risk. As it is below the government housing figure, it might reject it, ask us to start again, or impose the higher figure and sites not in this consultation on Three Rivers. But we must push for what is right for this district. We are committed to prioritising development on brownfield sites and protecting as much green belt land as possible.

“I hope that a majority of residents will agree on our new Lower Housing Growth approach, so make sure you have your say when the consultation is released later this month.

“I am pleased that the Three Rivers Joint Residents’ Association representing 22 residents groups has already come out in favour of this new approach as the best way forward for our district.”

Residents will be able to comment online via the council’s consultation page ‘have your say’ and details will also be in all parish council offices and public libraries. The council will be having a leaflet advertising the consultation delivered to every home over the next few weeks.