1. The latest consultation on the Welwyn Hatfield Local plan is now under way. Full details can be accesses through the Council’s web site here. Comments must be received by 5.00pm on Wednesday 1st April. The NMDGBS will be submitting its comments towards the end of the consultation period.
  1. This consultation is complicated because the proposals do not fully reflect what the Council’s cabinet agreed at its meeting on 30th January. Then, it decided to withdraw several of the sites already proposed in the draft plan. The decision reflected the latest Green Belt Study which assessed the “harm” that would be caused to the Green Belt. Included in the sites to be withdrawn were HS22(BrP4) and HS24(BrP7). However, when the council advised the Inspector of their intentions he responded saying that only he can remove sites from a Plan once it has been submitted for examination. This would be done as a ‘Main Modification’, which the Inspector would only do after the site has been in examined in public (now set to be in May sometime) and if after the examination, the Inspector considers the inclusion of the site to be “unsound”, then he can recommend it to the Council to be removed.   The public examination is likely to take place in May. The NMDGBS will attend and makerepresentations.
  1. The result is that the Draft Plan currently includes sites that the Council no longer supports but which the Inspector may later find are suitable.
  1. The Draft Plan currently proposes building 12,000 dwellings; the Inspector has asked for proposals to meet a target of 16,000 dwellings. In this consultation the Council is proposing 14,000 dwellings and is arguing that to go further will cause undue harm to the Green Belt.
  1. The NMDGBS argues that the figure of 12,000 dwellings for the borough is too high. It does not reflect the natural organic growth of the local population but rather is influenced by ambitious desire for economic expansion and a response to the housing pressures from London. Meeting that target will inevitably require land from the Green Belt. The target of 16,000 just make things so much worse.
  1. Though we are disappointed at the proposed increase in the Council’s target from 12,000 to 14,000 dwellings we are encouraged by their determination to resist allocating sites within the Green Belt where to do so would cause “high harm” to the purposes of the Green Belt. However there is still a prospect that the Inspector will disagree with the Council and seek to achieve the full 16,000 target.
  1. It is as important as ever to respond to this consultation. As many people as possible should do so: it may be the last chance. The previous consultation received over 10,000 responses. Let that be our target!
  1. What arguments do we use?
    Object to the unrealistic targets. It may be a lost cause, but we should continue to press for a sensible and proportionate increase. Even the 12,000 figure overstates the natural growth of the Borough and is based on assumptions of economic growth which were over-optimistic at the time and are now out of date.Support the Council in its resistance against the target of 16,000 dwellings.

    Argue that if the Green Belt is to be used for expansion, it should be reserved for local people.
    Emphasise the importance of the Green Belt in maintaining the character of our villages.
    Keep up the pressure on the individual sites, emphasising the harm to the Green Belt which would be caused by development, the lack of infrastructure to support new development.