Central government is forcing Hertsmere council to build a further 12,200 new homes in the borough by 2037.
The housing targets - imposed by Whitehall - will lead to the loss of huge swathes of Hertsmere's remaining greenbelt - CPRE The Countryside campaigns estimates that we are to loose 9% of our greenbelt under Hertsmere's plans. This will cause irreparable environmental damage.
And while affordable new housing is vital - and Hertsmere must play its part - the current targets place an unfairly large burden on our community, compared with the national picture.
Council leaders are resigned to this outcome. But we believe we all must take a stand - and fight for a fairer deal which helps protect our greenbelt.
That's why we're campaigning for the government to reduce Hertsmere's housing target by 50%, to be reviewed in five years' time.
You can add your support by signing the petition below.
The target of 12,200 new homes by 2037 comes despite years of intensive building across the borough. Bushey alone has accommodated 1,300 new homes - an 11% increase - since 2012. This means Bushey will grow by nearly 40% over 25 years - compared to the national annual target of 1%.
Hertsmere council must find room for all these homes - with the key sites now identified in the new Local Plan, the blueprint for future land use.
The sheer quantity of required housing creates the pressure - and the excuse - for the Plan to adopt extensive chunks of greenbelt for development, with planners arguing it's the only way of achieving the housing target.
Make no mistake, new housing is imperative - new homes must be built in Hertsmere, and not every inch of greenbelt can be preserved.
But development must be proportionate - and what we need are more social and affordable homes which make the housing market fairer.The government's targets for Hertsmere are not achieving this. Of the 3,800 new homes built in the borough since 2012, only 14% have been affordable.
Experience has shown that, far from helping low-paid and young people into decent housing, the present targets are generating an excess of executive homes. And the only people who truly benefit are profit-hungry developers.
Support our campaign by signing the petition below.
The government's targets don't take proper account of our borough's geography: Hertsmere is 80% greenbelt. This means the extensive loss of plants and wildlife habitat - while, across the UK, 25,000 hectares of brownfield land lie idle, enough to build more than a million new homes. That's in addition to the 270,000 existing homes in England which are classified as long-term empty.
In Hertsmere's case, the government is ignoring its official policy of greenbelt protection, which states there must be "exceptional circumstances" for boundaries to be changed. While the greenbelt was specifically conceived to preserve greenspace close to cities, we stand to lose ours - penalised for a proximity to London which attracts developers.
Targets must accurately reflect population growth - but Hertsmere's were set as long ago as 2014, before Brexit and Covid changed the demographic make-up of the UK. The government won't even commit to updating them with the 2021 census returns.
Reducing Hertsmere's government targets won't stop us building housing for people who really need them. We can build as many as we choose. But we deserve a greater role for our own judgment - so we can build the right homes, in the right places, for the genuine benefit of our community.
Make your voice heard - and help us fight for a fairer future for Hertsmere.
Whether you've already signed up to the campaign or aren't ready just yet, you can still help encourage other people to sign up.