Newsletter October 2021
In this issue:
- Local Plan Surprise
- Reviewing the Planning Review
- Hertsmere Local Plan
- Hazardous Waste planning application for Welham Green
- Society Membership
Local Plan Surprise
- The long running drama that is the Local Plan continues – and with a surprise!
- Avid readers will recall that in our last newsletter we left the Council with a deadline of 17 September to give the Inspector a “Final answer” to his demand for 15,200 dwellings.
- In August the Council wrote to the Inspector explaining they could not meet his timetable, proposing instead a response by 4 November following a special Council meeting. As far as can be ascertained, the Inspector did not respond to the Council but the Council took his silence for assent and proceeded with its own timetable.
- On 12 October, the six members of the Council’s Cabinet wrote to Michael Gove and asked him to clarify whether remarks by the Prime Minister at the Tory Party conference indicated a change of policy. Pending a response the Council suspended the timetable and cancelled the special Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel (CPPP) and Council meetings. You can see the press release on our website here
- So: we no longer have a timetable and, at the time of writing, no idea what the response of the Inspector will be to this unilateral suspension of the process.
- However in writing to the Inspector to explain the delay, the Council is suggesting that it may still be able to approve proposed changes “so that the main modifications consultation can still commence before Christmas”. The CPPP meets on 11 November, full Council meeting on 17 November. Details here.
What should we do?
- This is not a new consultation stage but it is hugely important that we register again our opposition to overdevelopment in North Mymms and the sacrifice of Green Belt.
- We must make our views clear to our local councillors, our MP and to Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Write especially to Stephen Bouton as the Cabinet member for planning, even though he may not be your ward councillor. The Society’s letters to Michael Gove, Grant Shapps and Councillor Boulton can be seen on our website here
- Many of you have previously written and been largely ignored. Please write/email again. This is a new development and maybe, just maybe, there is a change in mood in central government. See item about planning reform below.
- A summary of the Inspector’s findings on sites in North Mymms is attached as Appendix A
Review of the Planning Review
- In his September Cabinet reshuffle Boris Johnson sacked Robert Jenrick as the Secretary of State for Housing and Local Government and appointed Michael Gove who was immediately reported (and was subsequently confirmed) to be “pausing” Jenrick’s review of planning regulations.
- Boris then added his own ingredient to the mix with his Tory Party conference speech making The Daily Telegraph headline “PM pledges no homes on green fields”. It is this that has prompted Welwyn Hatfield councillors to act.
- Reports from the professional planning press indicate that the review of the review is considering “substantially watering down” some of the more controversial planning changes including the zonal planning system and the proposal for centrally-issued mandatory housing targets.
- It is this last bit that matters especially for us and timing is crucial. Any change which would allow councils to set their own targets must allow our council to take advantage of it before the Welwyn Hatfield local plan is finalised. We have made this point in our letter to the Secretary of State.
- The new planning bill, still promised in the relatively near future, will be accompanied by a “full review” of the National Planning Policy Framework. We shall need to watch carefully that his continues to provide protection for the Green Belt.
The Hertsmere Local Plan
- On 11 October, Hertsmere Borough Council published a draft consultation document which includes proposals for Green Belt development on our boundaries to the south in Potters Bar and to the west near Colney Heath.
- As a result of the high numbers of early responses the Council has extended the deadline for consultation by two weeks to 5pm on Monday 6 December.
- Responses can be provided by completing an online survey under the “Have your Say” tab on the plan’s bespoke website here, submitting comments via the consultation portal also available on the website, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to Local Plan Consultation, Hertsmere Borough Council, Elstree Way, Borehamwood WD6 9SR.
Hazardous Waste Planning Application
- As reported in the previous newsletter, waste management company BIFFA has applied to Herts County Council allowing it to use at a site at Welham Green for the transfer of hazardous waste. Comments on the application closed 12 August. A decision is pending. See here and search for PL/0217/21 for the details and the comments that have been made.
- Unfortunately due to pandemic restrictions over the last 18 months and our inability to send out the annual “green form”, our membership is somewhat down on previous years. We would be most grateful for members who have not yet done so to pay the annual subscriptions of £1 per family member 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 share this newsletter with your friends and neighbours and encourage them to join.
Appendix: Site Summary for North Mymms
WeG1 Welham Manor and WeG3a Land at Station Road
About a 100 dwellings. Development would be “sound”.
WeG10 Dixons Hill Road
About 120 dwellings could be found “sound” – but only if housing requirements for the Appendix: Site Summary for North Mymms
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 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 a 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”.
LEH4and5 Land at Videne and Studlands, Hawkshead Road
Development in this area would be less harmful to the Green Belt than development at site HS24.