Councillors in East Herts have been presented with a petition calling for the expansion of Harlow to stop.

Councils are under pressure to build more homes to meet demand from a growing population.

And East Herts District Council, Harlow District Council and Epping Forest District Council have earmarked areas in and around Harlow for future development.

But at the latest meeting of the full council at East Herts District Council (December 18) councillors were asked to stop the expansion.

The 223-signature petition – submitted by Charles Browne –  highlights the plans to build 23,000 new homes in and on the edge of Harlow.

It says the collective developments will mean green spaces and play areas in the town will be lost and that residents will have to walk further to get to ‘open’ country.

“Britain only has enough land to produce 60 per cent of the food we need, and needs to save its farmland from being built over,” it states.

“This drive to build on green farmland is happening all over the country and is being challenged wherever it is planned.

“Hopefully our democratically elected councils and government can be persuaded to cancel this initiative.”

The petition says that most of the new housing is unlikely to be social housing.

And it says that while the argument for expansion is to expand the economy, Britain is already the fifth richest country in the world and should already be able to look after people in old age.

No-one spoke in favour of the petition at the meeting and no councillor responded.

However following the meeting, in a response to the petition, council leader Cllr Linda Haysey defends the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town project.

She says it is “an exciting opportunity”  to build good quality much needed new homes, to boost the local economy and to begin to implement new transport solutions.

And she says the vision is to create “a joyful place to live, a town of enterprise, health and sculpture at the heart of the UK innovation corridor” that will set the agenda for sustainable living.

She points to the ‘open and transparent’ process of plan-making, culminating in a public inquiry.

And she says the concerns raised in the petition have already been considered at length by the council.

“As a result, the council does not propose to diverge from its agreed course of action now and sees the development of the Garden Town as an exciting and innovative project to meet housing and economic demands in the area for years to come,” she says.

Cllr Haysey also points to further work being undertaken to ensure the development that does come forward is of a high quality and is sustainable.