ACTION NEEDED on LOCAL PLAN before 12th February 2021

Re-examination of possible sites in Oaklands, Mardley Heath, Digswell & Welwyn

Anyone who engaged with the consultations in 2019 or 2020 will have received an email from the Inspector’s office inviting you to respond to the current re-examination of sites that didn’t make it into the currently-proposed Local Plan.

You may be wondering whether or not to reply to it. We believe lots of good quality answers will help.

The Inspector is looking for factual arguments that address his specific planning-oriented questions. You don’t have to be fluent in “planning speak” but, to be of use, replies need to directly address the stated questions and be dispassionate in their tone.

The Parish Council is compiling a response to all the Inspector’s questions, having reconvened the previous Local Plan Working Group that was so effective back in 2019. WPAG and WPPG are part of this. Most of the response will be based on the arguments already deployed in the previous consultations, although there are updates regarding Singlers Marsh that we will also use.

It is likely that a draft of the Parish Council will be available early next week for people to consult while preparing their own responses.

Please note that the Inspector is most likely to engage with original wording rather than pasted text lifted out of other submissions.

We also understand that the Inspector will be interested to hear about local infrastructure issues. Examples of infrastructure that you might think can’t be easily expanded around our area include primary school capacity (particularly in Welwyn village), parking, GP provision, nearby road networks (including Codicote Rd and Kimpton Rd in Welwyn, and Hertford Rd in Digswell), and village centre traffic flow (again, particularly in Welwyn itself).

It is also possible that the Inspector will be receptive to arguments about the land that would be given up for the new housing – eg if this is in-use agricultural land, then the loss of that land is not insignificant and could be seen as an infrastructure issue.

We’d very much like to encourage everyone who’s been invited to respond to do so, but to try to “play by the Inspector’s rules”: address his questions directly, stay dispassionate, target the planning issues rather than broader societal ones.

Here is the link to his questions around the Singlers Marsh sites .

The deadline is Friday 12th February. Thank you