In this issue:
- Local Plan Update
- Local Elections
- Society AGM
- Your Support
Local Plan Update
- The Inspector held a series of virtual examination hearings throughout March at which the Society was represented through our planning advisor, Jed Griffiths. Members of our committee worked with Jed on the representations and visited the sites with him ahead of the hearings.
- Representatives from Water End Residents Group, Little Heath Action Group and Bell Lane Action Group (BLAG) were also involved in the hearings.
- Our written representations on the sites and other matters are available on our website
- You can also watch video recordings of the hearings. click here
- We must now await the Inspector’s report which will be presented to the Council sometime after the local elections in May.
- On the overall numbers – the Objectively Assessed Number (OAN) – the best indication of the Inspector’s thinking can be found in his notes to the council after the recent hearings,. EX253 Inspector’s Stage 9 round-up notes 18.3.21 click here
- There, the Inspector states that the Plan must provide for the housing numbers in full. That number will be his decision but he has yet to say what it will be. It is clear that the Inspector’s decision on the final OAN will be absolutely critical in terms of the amount of Green Belt land which will be lost to housing.
- Developers are pressing for an OAN of 16,000 as previously agreed by the inspector; the council now say it should be 13,800.
- We and others argue for a figure of around 10,000 as reflecting the latest ONS population projections for the Borough. With CPRE Herts we submitted a paper by experienced town planner, Professor Alan Wenban-Smith, to support our position and worked and other local groups to present a united view.
- The difference is about meeting the genuine needs of the Borough versus the ever-present market demand from London. That is the argument, not just for North Mymms and Welwyn Hatfield but across the whole of the Green Belt in Hertfordshire.
- The government declares its policy is to protect the Green Belt; but it also wants to “build, build, build.” The Inspector has his eye on national government policy.
- As regards the individual sites in North Mymms it is difficult to speculate; it would appear from the Inspector’s Interim Report and his rounding up session at the end of Stage 9, that sites Marshmoor (WeG4a), South of Hatfield (HS11), Welham Manor and Station Road (WeG3a), and Land to the West of Brookmans Park (BrP4) are likely to be recommended for inclusion in the Local Plan. For Little Heath, it seems likely that sites LHe1 and LHe4/5 will also be recommended, together with a reduced area of BrP7. In the course of the hearings, the most controversial matter was the debate on site BrP1 at Bell Bar, involving the Society and the Bell Bar Action Group (BLAG).
- What Happens Next? From the Inspector’s notes of the Stage 9 rounding-up session, it would appear that the end of the Examination is in sight. At the time of writing the Borough Council is in purdah, until after the elections on 6th May. The Inspector has stated that he intends to produce a draft of his final report, together with a list of Main Modifications to the Local Plan, for the consideration of the new Council. If the Council accept the Inspector’s report, there will be a further six-week period of consultation on the Main Modifications. We shall consult members and if possible hold a public meeting.
- There is provision in the Local Plan Regulations for further hearings to be held into the Main Modifications, if these are necessary. Following that, the Inspector will issue his final report to the Council. Only at that point will the Examination be over.
- It is expected that, if the Borough Council accept the Inspector’s report and its recommendations, the Local Plan will be formally adopted in the autumn of this year.
- On 4th May, three Borough Council seats will be up for election in the wards covering North Mymms Parish: two seats in Welham Green and Hatfield South, one in Brookmans Park and Little Heath.
- Details of the elections and the candidates can be found on the Council’s website here. Please use your democratic rights.
- The Society is writing to all the candidates for these seats to ask whether they support the target of 16,000 dwellings in the local plan and what they will do if the Inspector insists on this number. Their answers will be published on our website.
We are very sorry that because of Covid restrictions we have not been able to hold our AGM in March as usual. Rather than wait indefinitely until we can hold a public meeting, we, like many organisations, will use Zoom. We shall open the meeting formally and then adjourn it until such date as we can get together without the Covid restrictions. That means the only resolution to be proposed at the meeting will be to adjourn. A quorum for the meeting is assured. The current members of the Committee will continue in post until the adjourned meeting is reconvened.
- The Agenda for the meeting, Minutes of last year’s meeting, Chairman’s Report and Financial Statements will be posted on the website.
- Accordingly, “Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held via Zoom on Monday 26th April 2021 at 7.30pm.”
- As explained above, we anticipate that the Council will be holding a further public consultation on the Local Plan in the Summer. If possible we shall organise a public meeting at that time and will continue the adjourned AGM then.
- We hope you will understand the need for these arrangements. If you have any questions, please get in touch through the website.
- The Society has just over one thousand members. Thank you very much. Your support is the essence of our existence; without it we could not defend the Green Belt in this area as we do.
- Membership subscriptions, at one pound (£1.00) per head, are payable for the calendar year and are now due.
- As our usual “green” membership subscription form cannot be delivered, please will you pay your subscription using the membership form on our website. We would be most grateful for (and need) anything you may wish to add by way of donation. We are living off the generosity of previous years. Please also take the opportunity to check that we have your membership details correctly.
- During the year we have lost committee members through illness, resignation and departure from the district. We urgently need new blood. Please get in touch if you can help us, particularly as regards communications and the website.