1. The Local Plan (an update and call to arms – again!).

2. Other planning matters.

3. Green Belt in Hertfordshire

3. Membership. Subscriptions for 2021 are due.

1. The Local Plan

  • Although it appears to be progressing very slowly, there is a lot of work going on on the local Plan and the next few weeks will be very busy.

  • We are indebted to our planning consultant Jed Griffiths who has been doing most of the heavy lifting for our submissions and who represents us at the various hearings. We can help him by letting our local councillors, and also our MP know what we think.

  • This process is being driven more by central government targets than by local needs so, more than ever, we need our Council to stand up for local interest.

  • Whatever government ministers may have said about supporting the Green Belt they are prepared to sacrifice it for housing targets – whether or not the targets are sensible or realistic in today’s economy.

  • And to add to the confusion, the Inspector has decided to hold hearings into sites, including some in North Mymms, which had been put forward for development but which were not accepted by the Council and not included for public consultation in the Draft Local Plan Proposed Submission in August 2016 or the Consultation on Proposed Changes in February 2020. Details below in section ii.

i. The Objectively Assessed Need (OAN)

  • In the summer, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) published new population estimates that showed a substantial slowing down in the rate of formation of new households in the Borough over the Plan period (2016-2036).

  • The Inspector asked the Council for their view on whether the new estimates represented a material change to the OAN in the Plan of 16,000 or 800 dwellings a year.

  • In November the Council recommended that the OAN for the period of the plan should be reduced from 16,000 to 13,800 or 690 dwellings a year.

  • 13,800 was considerably higher than the figure urged by NMDGBS and others and disregarded the straight forward interpretation of the ONS projections.

  • The Inspector, having already invited views, is to hold a hearing on 23rd February to consider the impact of the new forecasts on the OAN. He will then set out his view on what the OAN should be.

  • NMDGBS has made a submission based on our previous comments to the Council urging an OAN of 387 dwellings per year. This can be seen on our website HERE.

  • In his correspondence and preliminary conclusions, the Inspector has pointed out that “the figure that is currently before the examination is 16,000 and not whatever alternative figure the Council would prefer it to be” He also states “A fundamentally lower housing requirement would not support the national objective to boost the supply of housing.” The clear implication is that national targets trump local need.

ii. The Sites

  • In February 2020, the Council consulted on changes to sites selected for development. You can see the details the sites and of NMDGBS comments (along with all the other comments) HERE

  • At the Council’s CPPP meeting in November, with no consideration of the 770 or so responses to the consultation other than the officers’ summary, approved the site selection as set out in the consultation document. The total number of dwellings was 13,277.

  • This decision was approved by the full Council on 27th November and a Schedule of Main Modifications to the draft plan sent to the inspector.

  • The inspector has responded saying that in addition to conducting hearing sessions on the sites recommended he also wishes to examine a number of additional potential sites, for housing development, at villages excluded from the Green Belt. These include Welham Green, Brookmans Park and Little Heath.

  • The questions for these hearing sessions which can be viewed HERE


EX237 Further sites, for housing development, submitted to the Examination by the Council in November 2020

EX238 Potential additional sites, for housing development, at villages excluded from the Green Belt

  • The sites are: Welham Green

WeG1, Welham Manor

WeG3a Station Road West

WEG10, Dixons Hill Road

WeG6, Skimpans Farm

WeG12, Land north of Pooley’s Lane

WeG15, Land at Potterells Farm

WeG17, Land South of Dixon’s Hill road

Brookmans Park

BrP1 Bell Lane

BrP12a, Land north of Peplins Way

BrP34, Brookman’s Park Transmitting Station

Little Heath

Lhe 4/5 Videne and Studlands Hawkshead Road

  • If you have previously commented to the council on any of these sites at a previous consultation you may submit a hearing statement relating to that site.

  • Any hearing statements should be sent in pdf or word format to the Programme Officer at louise@poservices.co.uk and must arrive by the deadline of 5.00 pm on Friday 12 February. Hard copies of hearing statements are not required in addition to an electronic copy. Written submissions carry exactly the same weight as oral submissions, but anyone wishing to participate in any of the hearing sessions will need to notify the Programme Officer of this by 12 noon on Monday 8 February. The hearings are scheduled for the period 1st to 18th March.

  • NMDGBS will be submitting comments on all these sites and will be represented at the hearings. Our comments will be available on our website HERE

  • The matter in the hands of the inspector rather than the council but we have raised with local councillors our concerns at the examination of of sites that have not been put forward by the council. The implication is that the Inspector intends to make his own judgement and recommendation as to which sites should be included in the plan: in effect the inspector is conducting his own beauty parade! Local Councillors are confused and taken aback!

  • Please make your thoughts known to your local councillors and, if you have previously submitted comments to the consultations, submit your comments to the Inspector.

  • Note that: “The Inspector is only inviting comments in the context of the potential revisions to the policies and proposals and the evidence on which the revisions are based. He is not inviting general comments. Any responses which do not directly address the documents open for consultation will not be accepted.”

iii. The Green Belt

  • The Council has produced a proposal for a general approach to strengthening new Green Belt boundaries by tree planting and “green buffers”. (Document EX223 in the Examination list). NMDGBS will be submitting comments and attending the hearing on 25th February

2. Planning Refusals

  • We were pleased to note that applications for developments at Firs Park, Bell Bar, and Roundhouse Farm, Bullens Green, were refused. Howeverthe latter decision has been appealed. We shall be submitting comments to the appeal.

3. Green Belt in danger throughout Hertfordshire

  • Welwyn Hatfield isn’t alone. A powerful report from the London Green Belt Council shows how the countryside around London is shrinking. The LGBC (of which NMDGBS is a member) has updated its review of threats to the Green Belt showing that these have trebled in just four years. Hertfordshire is one the counties most affected.

  • 233,000 new homes are currently planned for “Protected” Green Belt countryside. The report concludes that one of the main causes of the increase is “interference” by Government planning inspectors in local council’s plans, “forcing local authorities to allocate more Green Belt land for development”.

  • You can read the report on our website.

4. Our Membership

  • With a thousand or so members, the Society rejoices in strong support from the community. Subscriptions are now due. We need your subs and donations as we have been living off the generosity of previous contributors. Given the current covid restrictions you could renew your subscriptions online via the membership page on our website HERE

  • It’s clear that our AGM will have to be delayed; we cannot at the moment deliver our usual “All Houses” green leaflet. If that continues to be impossible, we shall publish our annual report and accounts in a future newsletter.

  • Please share this newsletter with your friends and neighbours; encourage them to join. All the details are on our website.

  • Money isn’t everything and we would like more involvement from our members to share the load. Particularly: are you someone who could help us communicate our message, leverage the impact of our website and improve our effectiveness in defending the local Green Belt which in this year of lockdowns we have all come to appreciate more fully? Send us an email through the website. Thanks in advance.