In this issue:
- Local Plan Update
- Roundhouse Farm Planning Approval
- Hazardous Waste planning application for Welham Green
Local Plan Update
The Story so far…
- It would take too long to go back to the beginning!
- As reported in the April newsletter the Inspector had held a series of hearings in March on individual sites and on whether the Objectively Assessed Number(OAN) should be reduced from 16,000 as a result of more recent population projections from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). He was due to report his findings to the Council after the local elections in May.
Now read on…
- The Inspector has reported in six separate documents ( EX271 to EX276) which were published on the Council’s website on 9th July. here
- The OAN (now described FHOAN- Full Housing OAN) is reduced from 16,000 to 15,200. (Within that, as a slight amelioration, the “windfall allowance” has been raised by 509 dwellings to 1,809).
- We and others argued for a figure of around 10,000 as reflecting the latest ONS population projections for the Borough. The Council had said it should be 13,800 for which they could find 13,200.
- The Inspector has found that the majority of sites that he reviewed in March are acceptable for development from a Green Belt perspective (or could be made so with a bit of planting) with the result that he has identified sites with capacity for over 17,000 dwellings. The Council must decide which sites to include so as to meet the full 15,200 target (FHOAN) and present him with their proposals by 17th September. If they fail he will declare the plan “unsound”.
How will the choice be made?
The Inspector has left the choice of sites to the Council but at the same time told them very clearly what they must do. “…the distribution of development should reflect the plan’s Development Strategy which requires a proportionate distribution of housing between the two main towns and the excluded villages. Having arrived at that in general numerical terms, you will then need to comparatively assess the weight of evidence determining exceptional circumstances to remove land from the green belt on a site by site basis in the different locations. Those sites that cause least harm to the green belt’s openness and purposes whilst at the same time favouring those that score best from a sustainability perspective should be chosen.”
- The Inspector has considered a number of sites which had been rejected by the Council because of the level of harm which would be caused to the Green Belt. Some of these the Inspector considers to be as suitable as sites which have been included; he brushes aside Green Belt concerns saying these can be ameliorated by local planting. He has also criticised the Council’s choice of site proposals as not reflecting the Council’s development strategy.
- The Inspector’s view on the individual sites is set out in his report EX273. A summary for North Mymms sites is included as an appendix to this newsletter.
More Consultation? Not Yet!
- At this stage the process requires the council to propose “Main Modifications” to the existing Draft. Provided these meet the Inspector’s requirements, there will be a public consultation for a period of at least six weeks before the Council finally adopts the plan. This is a few months away.
- Speaking for the Council, Councillor Stephen Boulton is reported by the Welwyn Hatfield Times to be “bitterly disappointed” at the Inspector’s decision on the FHOAN. There is no suggestion that the Council will consult local people before making their decisions though the same WHT report says that they “will share our more detailed response shortly”. Now that the Conservatives have a majority again this will be their decision – first consulting amongst their caucus and then voting at a full Council meeting – presumably on 16th September.
- We need to let them know what we feel about sustainable development and protecting the Green Belt in our area. Local Councillor Paul Zukowskyj, also quoted in the WHT, is highly critical of the 20% increase in Welwyn Hatfield homes and the damage to be done to the Green Belt ”Once it’s gone, it’s gone for ever.”
- These targets are being imposed on local people by central government working through the Planning Inspectorate. Please make your views known to your local councillors. Their details can be found on the Council’s website.
Roundhouse Farm Bullens Green
- Last year the Council received a planning application for about 100 houses at Roundhouse Farm in Bullens Green. The site straddled the local boundary with St Albans and both Councils declined permission. There were many objectors, including NMDGBS; the site was in the Green Belt and had not been put forward for consideration for the local plan for either council.
- The applicants appealed and in a decision issued on 14th June, the application was granted by the Inspector who heard the appeal. You can see the decision here It is more than disappointing to see how easily harm to the Green Belt is dismissed.
- It is not clear what, if anything can be done to reverse or mitigate this decision which is another example of central government overriding local decisions in favour of “Build, build build”. We have protested to Grant Shapps and letters from our vice President Claire Taylor, were published in the WHT and Daily Telegraph. In addition the Chairman of the London Green Belt Council, of which NMDGBS is a member, has written to the Prime Minister. Texts are available on our website. here Please add your voice to the protests.
Planning Application to carry out hazardous waste operations in Welham Green
- An application to allow the trans-shipment of hazardous waste on the Welham Green industrial site (which is not within the Green Belt) has been made to the Herts County Council by BIFFA who already have an operation next to the site in question. BIFFA wish to transfer their existing hazardous waste operation from Stevenage and benefit from consolidating their operations at Welham Green. It will generate at least 70 traffic movements per day.
- At this stage it is not entirely clear what handling operations would be involved. It is not anticipated that there would be any disposal of hazardous waste at the site, and in this sense, the operation is very different from the incinerator proposal at New Barnfield which was defeated in 2016. Nevertheless it represents an important change of use and the application needs careful scrutiny. Consultation continues till 13th August.
- See here and search for PL/0217/21 for the details and a portal to comment.
- The society’s AGM was opened via a zoom meeting on 26th April and adjourned until such time as we could hold a public meeting. Our intention had been to combine this with a further consultation on the Local Plan. We still think this is a sensible approach even though further consultation on the Plan has been delayed. The AGM documents are available on our website. here
- In the meantime we would welcome, indeed we need, new blood into the Committee. If you would like to know more please contact the Secretary or Chairman by email through the firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Notwithstanding the pandemic and our inability to send out the annual “green form”, membership is holding up well but we would be grateful for members who have not yet done so to pay the annual subscription of £1.00 using the membership form on our website .here 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.
Appendix: Site Summary for North Mymms
WeG1 Welham Manor and WeG3a Land at Station Road
About a 100 dwellings Development would be “sound”
WeG10 Dixonshill Road
About 120 dwellings could be found “sound” – but only if housing requirements for the
village could not be met elsewhere.
WeG6 Skimpans Farm
About 70 dwellings; Site could contribute to the five-year supply of housing.
WeG12 Land north of Pooleys Lane
About 80 dwellings The site could contribute to the five-year supply of housing.
WeG15 Land at Potterells Farm
About 150 dwellings Development of the whole site is unlikely to be found “sound” but part of the site could contribute to the five-year supply of housing.
WeG17 Land south of Dixons Hill Road
Possible site for a Primary school- unlikely to be found “sound”.
HS21 and 23 Land at Golf Club Road Brookmans Park
Two small sites already found to be “sound”.
HS22 (BrP4) Land west of Brookmans Park Railway Station
About 250 dwellings. This site is included in the draft plan but the Council have sought to withdraw it. The inspector finds its inclusion to be “sound” and that there are the exceptional circumstances to justify its removal from the Green Belt.
BrP1 Bell Lane
About 100 dwellings. “Unless there is a genuine local need for additional housing that cannot be met in a more sustainable location and where exceptional circumstances for Green Belt release can be justified, then the development of this site is unlikely to be found sound”
BrP12a Land north of Peplins Way
Over 100 dwellings. The site could contribute to the five year supply of housing.
BrP34 Brookmans Park Transmitting Station
About 300 dwellings plus employment space. Not a particularly sustainable site for new residential development. Unlikely to be found “sound”.
HS25 Land North of Hawkshead Road
35 dwellings. Already found to be “sound”.
HS24 Land South of Hawkshead Road
About 100 dwellings. Having included it in the draft plan the Council wished to withdraw this site. The Inspector concluded “This is not a particularly sustainable location for a significant amount of new development.”
LEH4&5 Land at Videne and Studlands, Hawkshead Road
Development in this area would be less harmful to the Green Belt than development at site HS24.