I UNDERSTAND that there is a planning application pending for the demolition of the existing garages and the erection of two flats at 21 Main Street Hartford.
My sources tell me that although the application has been objected to by Huntingdon Town Council, the district planning officials are recommending that it be allowed to go ahead. Should this happen I believe that, although the proposed development may meet the letter of planning law, the concerns of the local community will, once again, have been ignored in the name of the sacred cow of 'affordable housing'.
My concerns are threefold:
- The current Hartford Court is a two-storey building at the western end of the Conservation area that is totally out of character with the other buildings in that area. It is a blot on the village landscape and how the original planning application was passed is a matter of conjecture. To allow the building of a similar two-storey building would compound the error.
- Parking on Main Street is difficult at the best of times. Of the 25 residential dwellings and three SMEs there, seven of the dwellings have to use on-street parking. The three SMEs (the King of the Belgians Public House, the Isis Hair Salon and Hartford Stores) rely on vehicle borne trade that requires on-street parking. Hartford Village Hall is a well used facility by both the villagers and other outside organisations. When it is used for large gatherings, parking spaces anywhere along Main Street are at a premium. Further pressure on Main Street parking also comes from the Barley Mow Public House where its extension has reduced parking spaces.
If the proposed application is granted there will be a need for a minimum of six further on-street residential parking spaces on Main Street (four displaced from the existing Hartford Court plus two from the new-build). This requirement would be further increased if any of the residents own more than one vehicle.
Any reduction in the number of on-street parking spaces will certainly impact adversely on an already fraught situation and will probably drive people away from Main Street and its facilities.
- The proposed new flats would be far closer to the existing boundary of the King of the Belgian's beer garden than the present Hartford Court. They would be adjacent be adjacent to it. Consequently the residents would overlook the garden and may suffer from the little noise generated by it, mainly from personal conversation and the occasional music accompanying events such as a barbecue that do not go on into the late-night. However, there is the worrying precedent set by HDC of the closure of a place of entertainment in Huntingdon town centre because of a complaint by one person. A similar fate could befall the King of the Belgians beer garden or the whole establishment if one of the new? residents is minded to raise a noise complaint.
I fully understand the pressing need to provide affordable housing in the district but I believe that this application, whilst meeting the letter of planning law, does not take into account the needs of the local residents and community and the potential negative impact for the benefit of housing two families.
This application is being considered by the planning panel Monday, August 18, at Pathfinder House and I would urge residents of Hartford to attend and make our concerns known. Remember Bearscroft