Hertfordshire to use growth to tackle key local issues

Published: 19 Sep 2018

The Leader of Hertfordshire County Council has set out his vision for the county, its current challenges, the opportunities that growth presents and the need for organisations to work together.

Hertfordshire is set go through its biggest period of growth since the post Second World War New Towns era. Central Government has set District Councils the target to deliver more than 100,000 new homes by 2031 and with the new homes, the aim is to create 100,000 new jobs in the county over the next fifteen years.

The County Council will need to provide transport improvements and the school places to support this growth. The County Council is also contributing to meeting housing needs through its development company Herts Living.  

With this in mind, growth was high on the agenda at the Hertfordshire Forward Conference held by Hertfordshire County Council today (Wednesday 19 September).

Leader of Hertfordshire County Council and Chairman of Hertfordshire Forward, David Williams, opened the conference speaking about the issues, challenges and opportunities ahead for local Councils. Hertfordshire is a prosperous county and an attractive place to live and work. 1.2 million people call Hertfordshire home. It has some of the best schools in the country, low crime levels, and a high proportion of residents are healthy and well.

However, the price the County pays for this is that many people who work locally are priced-out of the area, forcing them to live elsewhere while residents who can afford to live in Hertfordshire take up well paid jobs – notably in London.

Both these factors result in communities becoming less self-contained and less sustainable adding to pressures on our overburdened transport network.

 David Williams said: “We need Hertfordshire to be made up of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable communities, where people want, and can afford, to live and work. We need a good mix of housing development that are designed to help people stay healthy and to make sustainable transport choices.

“We will need to spend an estimated £5-6bn on infrastructure such as school places and highway improvements and will expect funding to support ambitious delivery plans from developers and central government.

“The imbalance being created between residential development sites and employment sites under current development plans is also a concern. We must ensure that we work together to ensure that Hertfordshire grows in a cohesive way that addresses our key priorities - homes and jobs.”

David Williams used the opportunity to share his principles of Good Growth for Hertfordshire noting the momentum behind new, county wide approaches to addressing strategic planning and housing issues, including the formation of a countywide Hertfordshire Growth Board, bringing organisations together to address spatial, economic and infrastructure planning issues.

David Williams continued: “The level of growth planned for the county requires a new commitment to joint-working. If we change the way we work, we have the opportunity to positively shape the future of the county to get the best outcomes for our communities and enhance our contribution to the UK economy.”

Key speakers at the event included Helen Gray, Foundation Director at Hertfordshire Community Foundation, Mark Bretton, Chairman of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Linda Haysey, Leader of East Hertfordshire District Council. David Bogle, Chief Executive from Hightown Housing Association gave the final address of the day.

Mark Bretton, Chairman of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “In this climate of change, our priority is to ensure how we can future-proof Hertfordshire against Brexit and other uncertainties.  The development of a Local Industrial Strategy, shaped by business in partnership with the public sector, enables us to look beyond our immediate individual priorities and make Hertfordshire a fitter, more prosperous place for generations to come.

“It’s been eight years since Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership was formed. In that time we have accelerated business-led growth in the region and leveraged significant private sector investment. Today was a great opportunity for us to share the progress we have been made on the Industrial Strategy and continue our ongoing dialogue with organisations across the county about how to address some of the challenges Hertfordshire faces and the opportunities to drive regional and national growth.”