The operators of Bovingdon Market have said they will “resist all attempts” to permanently close as councillors are set decide its future in a crunch vote next week.
The market, which first opened on January 1, 1978, has become one of the most popular weekend markets in the country.
However, new proposals for three permanent studios and extra backlot space, have been submitted to Dacorum Borough Council and could see the market forced to close.
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It raises concerns with the building on green belt land, and said, “the erection of such buildings for the purposes of film production is not an acceptable form of development as set out in the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] and therefore is inappropriate development within the Green Belt for which very special circumstances must be shown to exist,” and argues there are none that apply in this case.
The developers say that the location of the new structures in the ‘built up’ part of the land, near HMP The Mount and the current ITV Studio minimises the impact on green belt land.
The application also argues that there is a shortage of film studios in the UK, and this would provide filmmakers a more permanent option at Bovingdon, which has been used regularly for productions over the last decade.
However, Wendy Fair Market’s solicitors argue that the application does not make mention of developments elsewhere, which will see an increase in studio space.
The objection said: “The supporting evidence only speaks of the demand for such facilities and not the supply to meet that demand. New development is occurring at Pinewood, Leavesden, Guildford and Faversham to name just a few.”
“The council must get to the bottom of this and satisfy itself that the need alleged to exist is not being addressed on permitted sites and thereby allowing such an argument to justify development in the Green Belt.”
It continues that they believes sites that are not on the green belt should be considered before this application is granted permission.
The final part of the objection relates directly to any closure of the market. They argue that as the applicant is not the legal owner of the land they cannot offer any guarantees related to the market.
It continues that it is “unclear” as to how the application could stop the lawful use of the land.
It concludes: “Our clients will resist all attempts to remove their business from this site and the Council cannot allow this consideration to influence its decision unless it knows on what basis this assertion to remove the market will be lawfully secured.”
Councillors on Dacorum’s Development Management Committee will have their say on the proposals on Thursday, September 2.
Council officers are recommending that members vote to delegate the decision, with a view to approve. As the plans are deemed a major development, the decision will then be sent to the Secretary of State for final approval.