The Opportunity

Make Tyttenhanger a special place

For a long time, Hertsmere Borough Council has argued that because much of the borough’s ‘spare land’ is Green Belt (almost 80%) they have no choice but to build on it – and indeed they are considering a number of sites right across the Borough at the moment that fall under this argument.

The Council have suggested that much of the land at Tyttenhanger is of little value and largely inaccessible therefore giving them the perfect reason to develop it – and in doing so they have also stated that biodiversity will be preserved and enhanced. However, to date they have not explained how they will do this or presented any comprehensive documentation to support it (and, ironically, they have even left the section on Designated Open Spaces and Green Space contained in the Draft Local Plan Appendix 3 blank!).

This is a sad state of affairs given the fact that Green Belt land is intrinsically linked to wildlife and people. By refusing to acknowledge this within the Draft Plan, Hertsmere Borough Council has missed a huge opportunity to showcase what could be a pioneering approach to development with Tyttenhanger.

So we’d like to ask Hertsmere Borough Council:

Rather than play down the area’s value to people and wildlife, why not recognise it and promote it?

WHAT IF . . . Hertsmere dared to be different?

WHAT IF . . . Hertsmere were bold enough to be leaders and pioneers?

WHAT IF . . . Hertsmere saw the Green Belt as an opportunity:

  • to better the environment
  • to give people and nature space free from development
  • to model regenerative farming practices
  • to protect vital green spaces for future generations?

. . . and not just for local residents but for Hertfordshire, for the southeast of England and beyond.

In doing so they would set an example for other boroughs to follow and take a stand against the prevailing notion that such developments can continue without posing a serious threat long-term to our environment and people.

Simply removing existing habitats, cramming as many houses in as possible and leaving only heavily managed green spaces is extremely short-sighted and ultimately creates an over-developed landscape that benefits neither wildlife nor people. Once a site like Tyttenhanger has been bulldozed, it can never be returned to what it was. Its natural environment and the eco-system it has supported are lost forever.

Whilst we want to save and protect Tyttenhanger from any sort of development, we are also very aware of the difficulties that going up against the machines of government and local councils present. It’s often a David versus Goliath situation. However, with a robust argument and the support of a loud public voice, turning the table can happen – and so we urge Hertsmere Borough Council to properly listen and to allow debate around new ideas for Tyttenhanger.

We are certainly not against new housing, but future planning has to be done in a considered, managed way – and fundamentally in a way that is sympathetic to the local area, residents and the environment. If Tyttenhanger is seen as the only viable option after all other sites have been explored, then it should be developed with a significant reduction in the scale of the proposal to date, including a large reduction in the number of houses. This would mean that vital rural space could be left for wildlife and people to continue to enjoy the site.

A large, properly managed nature reserve could be created, building on the restored gravel pits already rich in biodiversity and preserving some of the surrounding wide-open landscape. Areas could be set aside for re-wilding approaches and remaining farmland could be farmed less intensively and with wildlife in mind.

With such a large portion of the borough currently Green Belt, we urge Hertsmere to step up and do something really worthwhile with Tyttenhanger. Local residents and those who visit the Tyttenhanger area need reassurance that such a beautiful, wild piece of countryside is given the respect it deserves – and this needs to be included as part of the Local Plan as soon as possible. If this doesn’t happen, much of Tyttenhanger will be lost and the currently vague notions of ‘a nature reserve’ and ‘green space’ will translate as areas of little value to wildlife and subsequently to people.

So we respectfully ask Hertsmere Borough Council to reconsider their development plans. Instead of being the council that simply sends in the bulldozers at every opportunity, why not set a precedent for other councils and become the champion of new housing developments? Tyttenhanger could be something really special in Hertfordshire – a place for natural discovery and rewarding enjoyment – and a showpiece for other boroughs to follow.

What can you do?

Comment on Hertsmere Borough Council’s Draft Local Plan, sign the petition and spread the word. We must fight to demand that residents are properly consulted on all aspects of the development if we are to stop it in its current form.