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Hill Farm Close: uncertainly over future of play area in Leavesden
Uncertainly still hangs over the play area in Leavesden where Tottenham Hotspur starlet Tom Carroll honed his skills.
Watford Community Housing Trust has not dropped its controversial ambition to build houses on the land in Hill Farm Close and is waiting to see if the area is allocated for development.
Three Rivers District Council is currently finalising its site allocation process, which will earmark areas for house building, and could determine the fate of the site.
Residents and politicians in the area have fought a two-year battle over the trust’s plans to build six houses and flats on the play area.
Gareth Lewis, the director of property and new business at Watford Community Housing Trust, said: "Once we know what the outcome of that [site allocation] process is, we’ll reconsider our options and then go from there."
He added: "Obviously, we’ve had the projects in the past. We have a responsibility to provide affordable housing for people to live in. so we do look at the options. There isn’t a situation where we have a formulated plan for Hill Farm Close - we’re just waiting for the allocations process to be complete."
Watford Community Housing Trust expects the site allocation process to be finished by the summer.
The housing trust owns the patch of land after purchasing Watford Borough Council’s housing stock in 2007 and submitted plans for Hill Farm Close in April 2012, only to be rejected later that year.
The housing trust appealed the decision but the planning inspectorate upheld the refusal by Three Rivers Council in June 2013 not to allow the development of this site.
This week, Stephen Giles-Medhurst, a district councillor for the area, said he believed the development of the site is "unlikely," but could not be ruled out.
He said: "I think it’s unlikely, but at the end of the day, the district council is not the total master of its own house. For instance, it could turn down a planning application, as indeed it did on this site last year and the Watford Community Housing Trust appealed to the planning inspectorate to overturn that refusal."
He added: "The planning inspectorate supported the council’s view that it should be rejected for development, but it wouldn’t stop the housing trust putting a plan in, having it refused by the council and again going to the planning inspectorate, and they would have the final say in the matter."
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