Angry Resident Wants Peace Back as Chalk Pit Tourism Takes Off

By Alan Winter updated 27 May

An irate resident has contacted Houghton Regis News Desk to vent their frustrations about visitors to the Chalk Pit clogging up their unadopted roads.

The resident, who did not want to be named, wrote, “As a resident on Fieldstone, we’re after some help. The quarry has been advertised on social media so it now has visitors from a wide area. They are blocking our residential roads, leaving rubbish and glass everywhere in the quarry. Having BBQs, drinking and meeting for social gatherings. They are drinking and dancing in the streets gone 11pm. There needs to be parking and the quarry managed before all the recent hard work is undone. We want peace back.

“This parking and quarry issue has been going on for the last few weeks after advertising has appeared on social media. We heard someone say they had driven from Milton Keynes, and a neighbour has stated that 5 people he knows from Hemel Hempstead have attended. Just this morning, a friend from work saw it advertised this weekend on a St Albans Mum's Facebook page.

“The photographs were taken over the bank holiday weekend, but the parking is just the same again today (Tuesday). They flock in at all times of the day. Some of them don’t leave the quarry until gone 11pm. Only 3 of the cars parked along Fieldstone are owned by people who live here, the rest are all visitors. Today they are parked all along Lake View, too, and up by the Kia garage.”

The Houghton Regis Chalk Pit was managed by Wildlife Trusts BCN for five years following the new 140 housing development at Lake View, after the planning approval in 2010.

During the managed years, the Chalk Pit was much improved with volunteers cleansing the site of old cars, abandoned burnt out bikes, a very large quantity of rubbish, much of it floating on the marl lake. Part of the Chalk Pit is a SSSI, while another part is a County Wildlife Site.

Improvements during those years also saw the managed removal of scrub, the construction of a boardwalk across a wet area, and for a short time, a fishing club was able to operate. When the funding for the Wildlife Trusts ran out, the hard-won benefits were lost, and litter started to return. The site is currently in private ownership.

Over £1m of new management funding for 'Quarry Maintenance' will follow in tranches when so many homes have been occupied on the developments to the north of the Chalk Pit, where outline planning permission has been granted for up to 1,850 homes.

There is no official car parking for the Chalk Pit. During the managed period, a few vehicles were easily able to park in lay-bys close to the southern entrance.

Whether more car parking can be provided at the southern end, or even at the northern end once developments there are completed, remains to be seen. Clearly, the popularity of the site will continue. In the future, parking on residential streets to the north, once they are constructed, will also become a problem that needs to be addressed.

HRND editor, Alan Winter:

“18 years ago, I found the chalk pit at Houghton Regis.

“It was a foreboding place to be, private keep out signs, barbed wire, scattered with burnt-out cars, and the debris of abandoned quarrying works.

“Even now, after years of voluntary work to clean it up, there are cables buried so deep they cannot be removed without reasonable force, so are a potential danger to the unwary.

“But on the whole, it is a sanctuary for wildlife and flora, and a true delight to walk around and to escape the hum-drum of normal life. It is a recognised SSI and county wildlife site.

“You can search YouTube for drone video of the place, and even I contributed a video composed from some of my photos.

“Most of us do appreciate nature and respect it, and in all walks of life there's always a few that spoil it for others, and it is to them we have to constantly appeal to:

1. Take litter home with you.
2. Park sensibly, A walk is a walk, so a few extra 100 yards won't make a lot of difference if you are having to park up,
3. Keep noise down at night when leaving.
Regards, Alan.

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