Hertsmere Council’s planning committee has unanimously backed an application for an eruv in Bushey.
There had been some local opposition to the application for the erection of poles and wires at 25 locations in the Bushey area to bridge gaps in the proposed eruv route not already marked by fences, buildings or walls.
While some of the criticism appeared ill-informed — leading one councillor to observe that project leaders might have done more to educate the wider public — local conservation area residents had suggested that the poles and attendant wires might have an adverse impact on the environment.
Around 40 Bushey Synagogue members and a similar number of objectors attended last Thursday’s planning meeting. They heard Daniel Blake — the Bushey board member who spearheaded the application — explain that the precise location of the poles had been carefully considered and agreed with planning officers to avoid detrimental visual impact. Citing the successful eruvim operating in neighbouring areas, he pointed out that “the arguments put forward and fears expressed by objectors in Bushey are not new. They have all been raised and addressed and found to be groundless in all these other eruv applications.”
Hertsmere Mayor, Councillor Paul Morris also spoke in favour of the application as a community advocate. He assured opponents that the eruv would have little impact on either the street scene or life for the general population.
“As a less-observant Jew living in Bushey Heath, the erection of an eruv will have no effect on my day-to-day life. However, I respect the right of all religions to conduct themselves in a manner that is commensurate with their beliefs.” Planning officers displayed photos of proposed sites for each of the poles, along with images featuring computer graphics of the poles in place. One councillor commented afterwards that it was difficult to “spot the difference”.
Project leaders now hope that a similar application in Harrow, where five of the eruv’s southernmost poles are sited, will also win planning approval next month. But, even then, there is still some way to go before the eruv is up and running.
“There are further minor legal requirements to deal with and though we have already completed a significant amount of fundraising, we shall need to raise the remaining funds we require before going out to tender,” Mr Blake reported.