The following was written by Sandra Kyriakides and published in the Welwyn Hatfield Times on August 9th 2017 p.22 under the headline ‘How many houses needed after Brexit?’
I was deeply concerned to learn that the Planning Inspector has claimed that WHBC’s Local Plan “falls far short of meeting the identified housing need”. I am the first to criticise the Borough Council for many things that it does but the plan it has submitted is already way in excess of what the Borough’s residents feel the area can sustain.
Central Government seems to have no awareness of the fact, or chooses to ignore, that we in Welwyn Hatfield have major traffic problems, inadequate medical provision, not enough schools and definitely not enough infrastructure to cope with the 12,000 homes that WHBC has put into the plan – let alone one or two thousand more. Is the Inspector totally oblivious of the fact that there is only one proper hospital, which constantly works to capacity? There are no provisions for another one.
Where are all the people in these homes going to work and how are they going to commute? We have appalling links to London; the A1(M) is blocked with accidents on a daily basis; the M25 is one of the world’s slowest ring roads; the only bus to London (797) was stopped two years ago and other bus services have been drastically reduced. As for the trains: mostly unreliable and pretty appalling and Govia’s plans for the future do not make encouraging reading. Parking anywhere is more and more difficult – especially at train stations, not to mention the exorbitant cost.
So what does the Inspectorate want to achieve? Cram more and more homes into the area regardless of the fact that the facilities are just not there to support them?
The “elephant in the room” that no-one mentions is Brexit! How can anyone accurately “assess” future housing requirements when no-one knows how Brexit will affect this? The OANs (objectively assessed needs) were calculated before the Brexit vote! There will certainly be a slow-down in residents coming from Europe, and many currently here may decide to return home or relocate due to changes in workplace.
Central Government should take stock of the situation and see how it develops. It should build new towns with good transport links to major cities and stop forcing local councils to ruin beautiful areas by cramming housing into every nook and cranny regardless of consequences.
Project Manager, Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group
Former WHBC Councillor (Independent) for Welwyn West