The Welwyn Neighbourhood Plan – Where does Welwyn stand?

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN

The following is drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

This is a new power available to local councils, introduced by the Localism Act 2011.

If Welwyn Parish Council decides to proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan, this would enable control over the definition of future type and location of development.

An adopted Neighbourhood Plan would become part of the statutory development plan.

The local planning authority (i.e. WHBC) has a duty to support those creating neighbourhood plans.

With the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), if in possession of an adopted Neighbourhood Plan, WPC would be entitled to a payment of 25% uncapped.  Without a plan it would receive a payment equal to 15% capped to £100 per dwelling.

If the Parish Council does not have a Neighbourhood Plan, WHBC would receive uncapped payments equal to 25%.

If a Neighbourhood Plan is produced by another organisation (i.e. not the Parish Council) within the community, payments would be subject to consultation with the local authority.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT FOR WELWYN NOT TO HAVE A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN:

  • WHBC WOULD THEN RECEIVE ALL MONEYS ON BUILDING WITHIN OUR PARISH TO SPEND AS THEY WISH.
  • WELWYN WOULD HAVE NO CONTROL OVER FUTURE BUILDING PROJECTS.

Welwyn Parish Council is undecided as to whether it will proceed to produce a Neighbourhood Plan because of (a) the cost implication and (b) the amount of work required to do so.

However, a working party has been set up by WPC, currently lead by Cllr Mark Castle.  The Clerk is working with Cllr Castle on the Terms of Reference for the group.   The group will examine the pros and cons of having a plan and put forward their recommendation to WPC which will then discuss this at a meeting.  If the decision is to proceed, volunteers from members of the public with specific skills in planning/architecture as well as from local action groups will be sought, to help produce the plan.

WPAG CONSIDERS IT IS VITAL THAT THERE IS A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN AND THAT WPC WOULD BE REMISS IN ITS PUBLIC DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY IF IT FAILS TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS.

The Local Plan – Next Steps

The following draft has been prepared by Sandra Kyriakides

A report to Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel (CPPP) on Thursday (13 December) outlines how the council will seek to meet the objectively assessed need for 16,000 new homes in the borough to 2033.

Members are set to consider the next steps in the development of the borough’s Local Plan, including a further call for new sites.

It follows a request from the government’s planning inspector to carry out a further study assessing the borough’s green belt to find more land for housing. This work assessed the likely impact of development on the green belt, identifying that the borough’s housing need can only be met in full if the council considers land where development would have high impact.

The report to CPPP recommends a call for new sites in the hope that more will come forward in lower harm areas. These will be published for public comment and council officers will then assess sites for their suitability for development. A decision will then be made on which sites are added to the plan for consideration by the inspector.

Cllr Stephen Boulton, Executive Member for Planning, said: “For our plan to move forwards, we must prove to the inspector that we’ve explored all possible options to deliver the level of growth the borough needs for the future.”

“A call for sites in the New Year will give us the best chance of producing a sound plan, a plan that balances the protection of our green belt with the need to deliver the new homes, jobs, services and infrastructure our children and grandchildren will rely on.”

Members will also agree a new timetable, which would see a four week call for new sites in January 2019, followed by sites being published for six weeks of public comment in February and March. It is hoped the plan will now be adopted in spring 2020.

To read the full report, visit the council’s website.

The Project Manager Reports – Welwyn’s Heritage Trail

The following report was drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

THE WELWYN HERITAGE TRAIL

Welwyn’s Heritage Trail was established a few years ago by the Welwyn Archaelogical Society with Lottery Funding.  Sadly, the website has not functioned for some time due to a loss of management, and lack of funding.

Through our active involvement with the Welwyn Parish Council’s Community Engagement Committee, WPAG has stepped in to manage this Project, aided by a generous donation of funds from the Welwyn Parish Plan Group. The aim is to restore this valuable guide to Welwyn’s heritage.

As a result, WPAG is currently working with volunteer local IT designers with the purpose of restoring the Welwyn Heritage Trail early in 2019.

The Danesbury Victorian Fernery and grotto

The Van Gogh Bust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opportunity will be taken to add two more sites to Welwyn’s Heritage Trail, to inform visitors and direct them to their location.

Sandra Kyriakides – Project Manager

The Project Manager Reports – Van Gogh – a Project Update

The following report was posted by Sandra Kyriakides

VAN GOGH PROJECT

You will all be aware of the role of WPAG in bringing the Van Gogh bust to the village. (See  the earlier post)

The sculptor, Anthony Padgett, has since suggested that the places that receive one of his Van Gogh bust donations (including Welwyn) might like to form a link with one another.

We have therefore been in communication with the Municipal Council of Arles, (Van Gogh’s home town in France) who have voted to accept Anthony’s kind offer.  They have been reminded of our (Welwyn) bust and suggested they might consider forming a cultural link with Welwyn in relation to our shared interest and history with Van Gogh.

The President of the Van Gogh Association, Vincent Ramon has written confirming that they would very much like to do this.

Anthony Padgett’s latest installation of Van Gogh sculpture work was unveiled in Brixton on 17th November.   (See The Art Newspaper)

The story of the project and photos of the bust of Vincent Van Gogh was in the national press Sunday Telegraph (a big half page photo) on 25th November.  It gives some excellent publicity for the Van Gogh Walk and the sculpture – and marked the event on a national level.  Welwyn was mentioned.

WPAG will be liaising with administrators at all sites with a view to establishing a link between all of them and ourselves.

The whole project is quite exciting and there will be a Tate Britain exhibition of Van Gogh’s work in March 2019.   We are in contact with Martin Bailey, the curator, to explore the possibility of including a reference to the Welwyn connection.

 

The Project Manager Reports – the poor State of our Local Pavements/Pathways

The following Report was drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

CONDITION OF LOCAL PAVEMENTS/PATHWAYS

WPAG is conducting a survey of local pavements and pathways that are in bad or poor condition.

If you know of any problem locations – please tell us.

Input from you is vital so, if there are any in your area, please email the location details to ku.gr1555687680o.gap1555687680w@reg1555687680anamt1555687680cejor1555687680p1555687680

We will record all reported details in our dossier, and WPAG will then raise the matter with those responsible for their maintenance.

 

The Local Plan – a Green Belt Update

The following post was drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

WHBC LOCAL PLAN EXAMINATION

The Local Plan for Welwyn Hatfield Borough was submitted for examination on 15 May 2017 and Melvyn Middleton BA(Econ) DipTP DipMgmt MRTPI was appointed by the Secretary of State to carry out an independent examination of our Local Plan (2013-2032).

The Inspector’s task is to consider the soundness of the submitted plan, based on the criteria set out in paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework).

A series of Public Staged Hearings have been held by the Inspector with WHBC Officers, and he has received submissions from invited public representatives.

All the Staged Hearings are all available to be studied on the WHBC website.

Green Belt

Of particular interest at this time are the Inspector’s comments at the Stage 5 Hearing which addressed Green Belt issues.

To understand these better, we will first review current legislation regarding Green Belts.

Government policy on the Green Belt is set out in chapter 13 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  Paragraph 133 states that ‘the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence’.

2.18 This is elaborated in NPPF paragraph 134, which states that Green Belts should serve five purposes, as set out below.

The purposes of Green Belt:

  • To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas.
  • To prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another.
  • To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment.
  • To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns.
  • To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban

Welwyn Hatfield’s case

The acuteness of the need for housing and the limited availability of land within urban areas for housing and employment have led WHBC to conclude that exceptional circumstances exist to review Green Belt boundaries to positively plan for the Borough’s development needs.  To deliver the most sustainable pattern of growth, development is to be directed to the urban areas and inset villages.  In addition, a new village ‘Symondshyde’ is proposed to the North West of Hatfield.

The Stage 5 Hearing

The Green Belt Review prepared and submitted by WHBC was discussed at the Stage 5 Hearing with the Government Inspector on 6th & 7th November 2018.  It can be viewed online on the WHBC website.  The document is 20 pages long; the points of interest that I picked up are mostly in questions 37 and 38.

The Council holds the view, and has therefore stated that exceptional circumstances exist only to meet the need for employment and housing growth and any change to the boundary will therefore be limited to the site allocations process.

The Inspector indicated at the round up session on the Green Belt Study that in his view the methodology was robust, and he has confirmed that he is not intending to have any further hearing sessions to discuss methodology.

As (public) representations have been made, stating that assessment of harm was not carried out on a consistent basis, the Inspector has asked that there should be consultation on the consistency of the scorings of the parcels and sub-division of parcels. The Inspector wants these matters to have been addressed before the village hearing sessions take place.

The deadline for comments is 5:00pm on Thursday 20 December.  Comments received will be posted on the WHBC website on the examination pages, estimated by end of January.

 

WPAG Welcomes the Wilshere Residents Association

On Thursday 25th October 2018, following an approach to the WPAG, the Leader of the newly formed Wilshere Park Residents Association, Mr Dan Ramasamy, was invited to introduce himself to the WPAG Committee.

He explained that the WPRA already have some 100 households signed-up to their Association, who are collectively facing a number of unresolved issues with the developers Linden Homes; issues that include un-adopted Highways, Footpaths and Rights of Way, and other services.

 

The Chair of WPAG, and Committee members spent time explaining the value of our connections within the community built up over the past 50 years, and particularly our role as co-opted members of the Welwyn Parish Council (WPC) Planning & Licensing Committee. It is in that capacity that three members of the WPAG Committee have already been earmarked for inclusion in the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party which it is hoped the WPC will soon agree to progress.

 

It was strongly recommended that the WPRA should aim to be included in the NP process once it starts,and the WPAG Chair therefore invited Dan Ramasamy to join the WPAG Committee, as WPRA’s representative, to ensure that that does indeed happen.

 

Dan Ramasamy was asked to submit an Introductory Statement to the WPAG Editor for publication on the WPAG website, following which the WPAG would be able to help raise awareness of WPRA activities within the Welwyn community by offering a link to the WPAG website www.wpag.org.uk

 

All members of the WPRA are encouraged to sign up to receive occasional WPAG Newsletters.

New WPAG Appointments

On 11th July 2018 the WPAG held an AGM, which had been postponed from its normal scheduled date due to the loss of service of two more key Committee Members for personal reasons, adding to the sad loss of Ron Oxley and Dr John Reay earlier in 2018

The date of the AGM coincided with the quarter finals of the World Cup which will have kept some members away, and as a result we had a low turnout. But, we are very happy to announce that four members volunteered to join the Committee in various capacities, and the new structure can be found in the Contacts section.

There remains one further Committee Vacancy for Lead Member dealing with Planning Applications.

Over the course of the next few months we will hope to include items to introduce the new members to you, who will then have the opportunity to talk about ‘how they see their role’ on the WPAG Committee.

The Project Manager Reports – Singlers Marsh Litter Bin Replacement

Local walkers in July/August noticed that the large litter bin which used to be next to the seat on Singlers Marsh, had disappeared!  It had been vandalised and believed to have been thrown into the River. Without a vigorous WPAG approach to the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, on behalf of  local residents and visitors alike, it is quite likely that nothing would have been done to replace it in a very long time.

There is a small litter bin attached to the fence by the exit gate onto Fulling Mill Lane, but this frequently gets overloaded, and it would seem that apart from litter, it is also being used by dog walkers to deposit dog poo bags.

Disgusting as this might be, it is perhaps not surprising as Singlers Marsh is clearly in need of dog poo bins too, and the Friends of Singlers Marsh volunteer group have been pressing the responsible Borough Council Officers to take a look at the site.

The WPAG were able to help by pushing hard to demand a timescale to resolve these issues, and local Borough Councillor Tony Kingsbury, who is Executive member for Housing and Community, responded.

We are pleased to report that a replacement waste bin has now been installed.

So what about dog poo bins? What about errant dog owners?

The case is still open.

 

North Herts Concrete Plant – the latest bad news

We have learned, too late for action at his stage, that a Planning Application 18/01726/FP has been placed with North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) for a Concrete Plant to be constructed on the B656 at Langley, North of Codicote.

The Welwyn Parish Council Planning & Licensing Committee, of which WPAG is a co-opted member, were given no time to consult and respond by the 2nd August deadline, and so Full Council formulated a quick response at their meeting on 30th July.

This Application has huge potential for further worsening the local road infrastructure, in particular the overloaded B656 Welwyn/Codicote Road and the Welwyn Link Road to the A1(M) Roundabout at Clock House Gardens, and we therefore give the earliest opportunity we can to brief you on the position.

Please follow the following link to read a Public Notice and the Planning Application NHDC consultation re concrete plant.

WPAG will now continue to monitor this development closely through our association with the Welwyn Parish Council Planning & Licensing Committee.