The Local Plan – how it relates to Welwyn Parish.

Introduction

This analysis is for members of the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group and is intended to provide a focus on the main issues contained within the Consultation Document, as far as they impact the Village of Welwyn, and the surrounding settlements of Oaklands & Mardley Heath, and Digswell.

For full details of the Local Plan it is recommended that you go to the borough website and access the Local Plan Consultation Document after following simple registration instructions.

Most of the content of the following analysis concerns housing site selection, and is derived from Sections 13, 14 and 15 of the Consultation Document, relating respectively to Oaklands & Mardley Heath, Welwyn Village, and Digswell.

  • To understand better the impact that Woolmer Green proposals might have on Welwyn, go to Section 12.
  • To understand better what is planned for Codicote, and developments along the B656 Welwyn-Codicote Road which will most likely impact life in Welwyn due to their major impact on B656 Highways issues, go to the North Herts Local PLan.

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The Local Plan – a Precis

The following Precis is for the benefit of members of the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group, and readers generally, who do not perhaps have a detailed understanding of the planning process which led to the production of the Welwyn Hatfield Consultation Document.

Of necessity, this precis omits technical details and evidence which support the broader statements that have been made, and we apologise if errors have crept in, or if there are major omissions.

We therefore strongly recommend that for a full understanding of the Consultation Document, readers should go to the Borough website and, once Registered, access all sections online.

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Welwyn Hatfield – new Local Plan goes out to Public Consultation

The new Borough Local Plan takes shape – but what shape?

(If you are not sure what a Local Plan is – go to What is – a Local Plan?)

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has published their proposed new Local Plan for 2011-2031. It was put out for Public Consultation on 23rd January 2015 and Public Consultation runs to 19th March 2015..

To find out what is in the new Local Plan for 2011-2031, go to WHBC Local Plan Consultation.

The Borough is consulting on:

  • how many homes we need to build,
  • where they should go and on which sites and
  • what type of policies are needed.

In order to gather the evidence which is essential to a successful planning process, consultants working with WHBC have analysed the social, economic and environmental impacts of the policy intentions and sites which are set out in the Local Plan Consultation document.

Have your say!

You are all encouraged to take the time to study the Consultation Document, and to complete the associated Response Forms for:

  • the Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan, (to identify the infrastructure likely to be required to support Local Plan housing growth, and
  • the Sustainability Appraisal.

How to respond?

In order to comment you will need to register your details on the WHBC consultation portal, so do not leave it to the last minute!

Once you’ve registered you will be given a password to ensure your access is secure and that no one else can comment using your name.  Please be aware that this is a public consultation and once your comments have been processed they can be viewed by others.

If you are unable to comment online, you can also email: ku.vo1568862693g.tah1568862693lew@n1568862693alpla1568862693col1568862693 or write to Planning Policy, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6AE.

Paper copies of the consultation material will also be available in the council offices and at libraries throughout the borough.

When to Respond?

Your comments have to be received by post, or online, by 5 pm on Thursday 19th March 2015, but the best way to have your say is to comment online at the WHBC website.

What is – a Local Plan?

What is – a Local Plan?

A Local Plan sets out a vision for the future of a local planning authority, in our case the Borough of Welwyn Hatfield.

It contains strategic policies, growth targets, site allocations and the policies which will guide planning applications.

The Local Plan will decide where and when development should take place.

What period does the Local Plan last?

The Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan will replace the District Plan of 2005 and will cover the period 2011-2031. (The delayed start is due to the inherent delay caused through change in National Government in 2011).

The new Local Plan is thus a 20 year Plan.

What would happen if there is no Local Plan?

A Local Plan is needed in order to comply with Government policy, and is justified by the evidence.

If the borough lacks an up-to-date Local Plan, it could lead to the costly process of ‘planning by appeal’, which would provide far less scope to achieve high quality development.

 

What is – Green Belt Land?

What is – Green Belt Land?

In United Kingdom town planning, the green belt is a policy for controlling urban growth.

The idea is for a ring of countryside where urbanisation will be resisted for the foreseeable future, maintaining an area where agriculture, forestry and outdoor leisure can be expected to prevail. The fundamental aim of green belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open, and consequently the most important attribute of green belts is their openness.

England has 14 Green Belts covering over a tenth (13%) of the land, providing a breath of fresh air for 45 million people. Altogether, 88% of the population (including those in the Borough of Welwyn Hatfield) live in urban areas within Green Belt boundaries. (Source: CPRE)

Can you build on Green Belt Land?

Areas that are designated as green belt must not be built upon because green belt is defined as an open space.

However, that does not mean that no buildings can be erected in green belt. Buildings for agricultural uses and sanitation facilities, for instance, are usually allowed. And, in some cases, it is also possible to change the use of land in green belt, and even gain permission for structures that are officially not allowed in green belt.

But such cases are very rare.

So – can Green Belt boundaries actually be changed?

While the government says that green belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances it does now affirm that creation of the Local Plan is one of those ‘exceptional’ circumstances, and one that will of course be inspected when the plan is submitted. N.B. Welwyn Hatfield is in the process of doing just that – creating a new Local Plan.

The Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan – cause for Green Belt change?

The Borough of Welwyn Hatfield has just put out its new Local Plan Consultation Document for Public Consultation, a process which ends on 19th March 2015.

In recent times, and prior to publication of the Local Plan Consultation Document, WHBC undertook two green belt reviews: the first in 2013 looked more widely at this part of Hertfordshire including outside Borough boundaries, but the second in 2014 was specific to Welwyn Hatfield.

As part of this latter process, the following two activities took place:

  1. A process was initiated called Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments (SHLAA’s) whereby (known) local landowners were invited to propose sites for potential housing development. This was to have been concluded by the end of April 2014.
  2. By the end of 2014, WHBC Officers then analysed the landowners’  proposed sites against criteria which, among other issues, included the proximity of existing green belt boundaries.

A common, non-green belt, argument for failing this critical analysis was that proposed sites were not contiguous with an (existing) urban (including village) boundary, which is one of the rules which guards against ribbon development, and coalescence between settlements/villages/towns.

But there are now, nevertheless, instances where the WHBC is actually proposing to change current Green Belt boundaries, and that includes sites in and around the settlements of Welwyn Village, Digswell, and Oaklands & Mardley Heath. The borough estimates that the building of all the houses in the new Local Plan will reduce the green belt to 76% of the area within its boundaries.

One safeguard is that new boundaries have to be definable, where possible, by physical things roads, railway, rivers, woodland etc, and not just by drawing a line across a field.

 

 

 

New Barnfield – a belated update

We reported in February 2013 that the Secretary of State had called in Veolia’s Planning Application to build an incinerator at New Barnfield and that a Public Enquiry was to be held.

For the record, and because this website was off-air at the time, we now report that following the Public Enquiry the planning permission, previously granted, was overturned in July 2014 by the Planning Inspector acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles.

So it’s over. There will be no waste incinerator in Hatfield.

Luton Airport – a news update

In Welwyn, have you recently been irritated or disturbed by the noise of an aircraft taking off or landing at Luton Airport?

If you have, then you are certain to be interested in, and supportive of, the work being undertaken by a group of volunteers nearby who operate under the banner LADACAN which stands for Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise.

LADACAN has a very good website which will keep you up-to-date with all their latest activities and actions. Click on LADACAN now, or go to our Links Page when you have more time.

Their website presents an easy to read summary of:

What is currently happening?
Luton Airport has just completed a consultation on the introduction of a new technology called RNAV to control aircraft navigation. It is intended to keep aircraft more closely on the designated routes, though the initial trials in spring of 2013 showed that there were problems with accuracy. The results of the consultation will be announced shortly – for more details click here >>

The Noise Action Plan for Luton Airport is currently being reviewed and updated, and LADACAN is involved in the consultation. The plan – often dubbed a Noise Inaction Plan – is woefully short of real actions designed to drive down noise, and we are seeking to influence the airport operators LLAOL to give it more teeth. For more on this story and to see the LADACAN response, click here >>

The Planning Conditions which emerged as a result of the recently granted expansion planning application represent a new approach to trying to control noise, using a Quota Count system. People feel that while quota counts may incentivise the use of slightly quieter aircraft, they permit many more flights – and it is planes going overhead which annoy them. For more on this story and to see the LADACAN input, click here >>

Welwyn Natural History Society – exciting new programme for 2015

WNHS have published their new programme of monthly talks and presentations for 2015. Of especial note, and following the successful launch in 2014, the WNHS is once again holding a joint talk with the Hertfordshire Natural History Society, to which WNHS is affiliated. Last year this proved to be a sell-out.

To see the official 2015 WNHS Programme have a look at the  WHNS Programme or go to the Calendar.

Links in the text are provided to the Hertfordshire Natural History Society where you will discover all the amazing things that HNHS are up to.