New inquiry will delay Piccotts End development plans ‘by 5 years’

Residents can breathe a sigh of relief that two major development plans affecting the village could be delayed by up to 5 years. The news comes following a Dacorum planning meeting at which councillors were informed that no new developments could go ahead pending the outcome of an inquiry into the environmental impact of tourism on Ashridge forest. The popular beauty spot is thought to be in danger of being severely degraded by the increasing number of people who visit it each year. Proposed new developments in Dacorum involving thousands of new homes will only aggravate the situation.

As a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) the forest is protected by law and any proposed new development within an 8-mile radius (12km) must be paused until the inquiry is concluded and its findings evaluated. According to the QC advising Dacorum, this could be as much as 5 years. This means that the Marchmont Fields plan and the proposed development on the other side of the Leighton Buzzard road, even if approved, cannot go ahead probably until 2027 at the earliest. 

Giving a cautious welcome to the news, PERA’s secretary Michael Nidd said that there is bound to be ‘a deal of small print. As always, the devil is in the detail.’