North Mymms District Green Belt Society Newsletter – July 2020

This July Newsletter is a little later than usual to include the start of the Hearings held at the end of the month on sites within our Parish.

The Objectively Assessed Number OAN – a recap:

The OAN reflects projections made by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on household formation over the plan period.

The Draft Local Plan currently being examined by the Inspector provides for an OAN of 16,000 dwellings to be built over the plan period of 2021-2036.

Faced with this target the draft Local Plan being considered proposes only 12,000 dwellings. Challenged by the inspector to provide for the full OAN the Council has considered a proposal for 14,000 dwellings, but has not yet put this forward formally.

The OAN of 16,000 reflects the household projections made in 2014.  The ONS updates these projections every two years and the Plan is expected to take account of the latest information. But though projections in 2016 indicated that growth would be lower than previously predicted, the Council decided to stick with the 2014 projections and the Inspector agreed that this was not unreasonable. This left the OAN at 16,000.

The latest 2018-based household projection figures continue the trend of slower growth, and substantially so.

According to calculations done by CPRE Herts, (of which NMDGBS is a member) the latest projections for our borough for the period between 2018 and 2036 show that the number of projected households in 2036 is 7,000 fewer than in the 2014 projections on which the OAN of 16,000 is based.

The OAN is a complex calculation but the household projection figures are the starting point

Local ward councilor, Paul Zukowskyj, quoted in the Welwyn Hatfield Times, urges a reduction in the planned target from 16,000 to “under 10,000.”

Also in a letter in the WHT, the Chair of “Save Symonshyde” argues that “anything higher than 10,520 would be unjustifiable”.

And that is before taking account of the impact of Brexit  and the economic repercussions of Covid-19.

The Society asked the Cabinet Parking and Planning Panel (CPPP) to look at the economic growth assumptions in the Plan and confirm that they were “ realistic and sensible in the changed economic circumstances of the country post covid.” The Council confirmed that they had asked its consultants, Turley, to look at the latest ONS numbers but didn’t actually answer the question asked.

The Inspector wrote to the Council asking for a response on the latest ONS figures by 31st July, but at the CPPP  meeting on 30th July there was no mention of progress on the consultant’s report.

We shall have to wait and see for the outcome. The Inspector has said he would expect to seek comments on any proposed change so we shall have our say on whatever is proposed.

The ONS projections are excellent news. Please urge your Councillors to take them fully into account to reduce the pressure on the Green Belt.

Stage Eight Hearing Sessions
The Inspector’s examination of the Plan recommenced with virtual hearings in the last week of July.
At the outset, the Inspector made it plain that he was only dealing with the sites that have been included in the current draft as submitted to him. He was not concerned with other sites which may be submitted by the Council at a later stage or with sites being promoted by developers that had not been accepted by the Council. He was not, he said, “conducting a beauty parade”.
The Hearings are the Inspector’s opportunity to hear and probe the various views of interested parties as he assesses the “soundness” of the proposed sites. He may declare his thoughts but does not pronounce any decision.
You can follow the sessions at the time through the live feed or later; the written arguments are published through the council’s web-site here.

Our planning consultant, Jed Griffiths, represented the Society at hearings on the 30th July about the sites in Welham Green :  Sites HS11 (Hat 11) Land at South Way,  Site SDS7 (WeG4b) Marshmoor, and  Site HS35 (GTLAA01)Foxes Lane, Dixons Hill Road.

The hearings on the other sites within the parish will be on 18th,19th and 20th August.

As a reminder, these are:
In Brookmans Park  –  Site HS22 (BrP4) Land West of Brookmans Park Railway Station, Site HS21 (BrP13) Land West of Golf Club Road, Site HS23 (BrP14) Land East of Golf Club Road
In Little Heath –   Site HS24 (BRP7) Land South of Hawkshead Road,  Site HS25 (LHe1) Land North of Hawkshead Road.
Our views on these sites have already been submitted and can be seen on the web site.

Elsewhere in the Green Belt

London Green Belt Council (LGBC) reports on the announcement by Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities  and Local Government, to launch a policy paper setting out a new approach to planning. For more on this and a general round-up of developments affecting the London Metropolitan Green Belt, see the latest monthly report here.

The LGBC is also working with West Herts MP, Gagan Mohindra, to restart the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London’s Green Belt.  In past sessions of Parliament, our local MPs have been members of this valuable group.

CPRE the Countryside Charity has launched its “Manifesto for a resilient countryside after Coronavirus” calling on the government, amongst other things, to enhance and protect the countryside around our towns and cities, including the Green Belt, delivering better quality green spaces near to where people live. CPRE Website.

Our Committee

Our committee is losing one of its long serving stalwarts, Philip Elgar is leaving for the beauties of the Chilterns. We are very sorry to be losing him and thank him for all his support.  Is there anyone out there interested in joining us? We would be delighted to welcome reinforcements to our committee especially if you have a feeling for websites and social media.

We lack up to date email addresses for quite a number of our members so please share this news letter with your friends and neighbours. If they are not members , encourage them to join us.