“Borehamwood is full” was the overwhelming message as more than a hundred people gathered to make sure their views on development in the town were heard.
Elstree and Borehamwood Town Council last night held a public meeting at The Ark Theatre in Thrift Farm Lane to answer questions about the recent draft of the Elstree Way Corridor Area Action Plan.
Councillor Pat Strack, who chaired the meeting with Councillor Graham Franklin, made it clear the council had no control over development but could pass on the views of the townspeople to those who did.
Hertsmere Borough Councillor Harvey Cohen, who has responsibility for planning, gave a presentation explaining why the houses had to be built in Borehamwood and what the action plan meant.
Around 1,600 homes are either being built, planned or suggested in Borehamwood, mainly in Elstree Way and Manor Way, but also in Thrift Farm Way, Studio Way and land near the station.
The borough council is obliged to build 3,990 homes in Hertsmere in the next 15 years. Following a consultation ten years ago in which residents voted not to build on greenbelt land, 60 per cent of that development will be in Borehamwood.
Peter Alderton, who has lived in Borehamwood most of his life, asked why the settlement had been forced to change from the village it was 30 years ago.
He said: “The village is no longer a village. It used to be a thriving place to live with no gaps in the high street. Why did you have to ruin this town by building all these houses?”
Chaya Robertson said Borehamwood did not have the schools, doctors surgeries and roads to support the current inhabitants let alone those who would occupy the new houses.
John Galliers asked what would happen if 90 per cent of people turned round and said they did not want any more houses in the town.
Residents also asked why all the houses were being built in Borehamwood and not in Potters Bar or Radlett.
Cllr Cohen made it clear he shared residents’ concerns about the town’s ever increasing size, adding one of the main reasons he became a councillor was because of his fears over development.
He said: “I’ve lived in the town since 1987 and I don’t want it to change. But no house building is not an option.”
“The Government sees the south east as the energy room of the country and is building houses for workers to revive the economy. People want to live in Hertsmere. If we refused to build houses and have no plan for development, the Government will impose a higher target on us and it will be put up piecemeal.
“All we can do is plan the development, control the pace and make sure we have infrastructure in place."
Mr Galliers accused the council of being “blackmailed and bullied” by the Government and by developers into accepting some rubbish, in order to avoid more rubbish, suggesting it was powerless.
Cllr Cohen said in drawing up plans for the next 15 years, he would fight to make sure no more house building would take place in Borehamwood.
He added: “There is no future of building in Borehamwood, the future has to be green belt sites.”