• Nettleden with Potten End Parish Council

  • Nettleden with Potten End Parish Council

  • Nettleden with Potten End Parish Council

  • Nettleden with Potten End Parish Council

  • Nettleden with Potten End Parish Council

  • Nettleden with Potten End Parish Council

  • Nettleden with Potten End Parish Council

Potten End Hill SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space)

The Parish Council would like to draw your attention to a significant change of use being proposed for the land between Nettleden Road and Potten End Hill from the outskirts of Potten End down the hill almost as far as the Leighton Buzzard Rd. The land is currently agricultural and it’s proposed to become what is called a Suitable Alternative Green Space, or SANG; effectively it will become a publicly accessible park with a car park.

If you want to see the full documentation and/or comment on this application you can do so at the Dacorum Planning Portal by 16 July (later than the originally advertised 3 July).

The idea behind SANGs is that they provide a public space which will divert people from travelling to Ashridge which has been suffering from overuse. Any new development in Dacorum must provide more publicly accessible green space. This SANG is funded by developers who want to build 1,100 houses to the west of Hemel at the bottom of Pouchen End Lane – although for some reason the link between this development and the SANG which was made quite explicitly by the developers in early conversations is missing from the planning application.

To help orientate you on the map below, Potten End is at the bottom left hand corner with Frithsden and Nettleden above it. Great Gaddesden is top centre, the Leighton Buzzard Road and the River Gade are running from centre top to bottom right with the Water End Bridge the kink about half way along the road. The SANG is the hashed area between Nettleden Road at the top and Potten End Hill at the bottom running almost from the river at the eastern end to the outskirts of Potten End in the west.

The following is a detailed plan of the site but you may find it easier to download the original from the Dacorum Planning Portal.

The Parish Council will discuss its position regarding the proposal at its meeting on 18 July but the recommendation is that it should object for the following reasons:

The Borough’s strategic objectives would be best met by reducing the size of the proposed housing development to create green space onsite removing the need for offsite development and travel. If for whatever reason this isn’t practical then insufficient arguments have been provided to demonstrate how the proposed SANG will divert people from Ashridge which is the core objective of a SANG.

One of the key aspects of the SANG is a car park with 50 places located at the bottom of Potten End Hill with an entrance just up the hill from Willows Lane. There is a concern that this will result in increased traffic at the busy junction of Potten End Hill and the Leighton Buzzard Road as well as adding further pressure to the already highly congested single-lane bridge at Water End.

Having the car park in this location will lead to people leaving the SANG to walk along the (flat) footpath along the Gade water meadows toward Great Gaddesden rather than taking the (steep) footpaths toward Potten End, and that this will adversely impact the fragile ecology of the water meadows, particularly if dogs are allowed to roam freely. The absence of almost any refence to the possible impact on a globally rare chalk stream only 100m from the site is one of the more striking aspects of the proposal.

The car park is also in the setting of the Water End conservation area and a number of listed buildings.
The SANG is heavily focused on allowing dogs to roam freely, and the valley side running up from Nettleden Road provides breeding grounds for several ground-breeding birds, in particular the rare Corn Bunting and Yellow Hammer, which will be adversely affected by dogs.

Finally there is the impact on the view down the Nettleden Road valley. At the moment this is a dramatic, unbroken vista with no hedges or fences on either side for the length of the valley. The proposal introduces two hedgerows and a fence along the southern side of the valley splitting it into four compartments both because these reflect the field structure in the 19th century and because hedgerows are a valuable habitat. Even if you think those arguments are compelling, it will represent a significant change to an iconic view.