Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan – Housing Site Review

Background

We reported on the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Site Review on May 8th 2019

Following the subsequent production of the WHBC Draft Local Plan which was submitted to the Inspector, and the series of public examinations which followed, the Inspector has asked the WHBC to undertake further work to address areas where he felt that their Draft Local Plan fell short of his requirements.

He called for the WHBC to produce a series of documents for further Examination of which Examination Document EX156 is of great significance to Welwyn, which assesses Welwyn Hatfield’s Landscape Sensitivity, and EX160 which presents a so-called Green Gap Assessment.

The WPAG and the WPC were consulted on both these Examination documents.

The WPAG Response to the WHBC’s Consultation of their Examination Papers

The joint WPC/WPAG Local Plan Working Party was re-called, and a joint Response was penned by Cllr Bill Morris and submitted to the Inspector (direct) by the Clerk to the Welwyn Parish Council.

You are recommended to go to the WHBC Local Planning site where you will be able to read the WPC/WPAG response in full.

Public Examination

The Inspector has since invited all ‘Representers’ to the Draft Local Plan, which includes the WPC/WPAG, to speak to our Response on 17th December 2019 as part of a further series of formal meetings which will examine WHBC’s Housing Needs Forecasts.

Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan – Site Review

SITES FOR AN EXTRA 4000 HOUSES HAVE TO BE FOUND.

The following Introductory paragraphs are taken from the WHBC website.

The Draft Local Plan sets out the long-term planning framework for the borough, identifying how much and what type of development is needed, where it should or should not be located and whether any key infrastructure needs to be delivered, such as primary and secondary schools. Once adopted, the Local Plan will shape the future of the borough for at least 15 years ahead.

The Draft Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for examination in May 2017. An independent planning inspector, Melvyn Middleton BA(Econ), DipMgmt, MRTPI,  was appointed to consider the soundness of the submitted plan.

The draft plan contains sites for 12,000 homes but the housing need is currently acknowledged to be about 16,000 homes to 2033.

As the plan does not meet the objectively assessed need for housing in full, the Inspector has asked the council to investigate if there is any scope for additional housing sites to be identified. 

CALL FOR SITES 2019

Having taken the Inspector’s comments into account, the council decided to carry out a Call for (more) Sites.

The Call for Sites took place between 7th January and 4th February 2019. Over 140 sites were promoted for either housing, employment, mixed use or other forms of development.  

Consultation on the new sites that are being promoted by landholders has now started and instructions on how to respond are on the WHBC website.

Responses to this Consultation have to be with the WHBC by 5pm on 18th June 2019.

All the promoted sites across the Borough can be studied on their website.

WPAG ACTION PLAN

The Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group (WPAG) were members of the Local Plan Working Party set up by the Welwyn Parish Council (WPC) in 2017.

In the past 24 hours the WPAG has encouraged the WPC to re-call that Working Party to prepare a response to the new list of Promoted sites.

WELWYN PARISH – PROMOTED SITES

For your ease of access, we list below the new sites being promoted for Welwyn Parish, including other neighbouring sites which have the potential to significantly affect Welwyn, should they be selected.

We do not as yet express our views on these sites, which have to be studied in depth.

It is perhaps necessary to remind you that the sites previously accepted for the Draft Local Plan, are still in place – this Consultation is only for the additional sites that the WHBC are now looking at, which have been promoted as a result of the Call for Sites 2019.

WELWYN PARISH, AND NEARBY, PROMOTED SITES

To find the Promoted Sites, please go to the following links to the Borough website.

WELWYN – 2019 Promoted sites

RURAL NORTH – 2019 Promoted sites

OAKLANDS & MARDLEY HEATH – 2019 Promoted sites

DIGSWELL – 2019 Promoted sites

WOOLMER GREEN – 2019 Promoted sites

The Local Plan – a message for Welwyn Parish Council

The following is drafted by Sandra Kyriakides.

WPAG believes that in the context of further WHBC Green Belt Study – Stage 3 called for by the Inspector, (see the WHBC December Local Plan Newsletter) the WPC should reiterate to WHBC by the 20th December 2019 deadline, the major concerns we have for any development in Welwyn – particularly on Green Belt sites – other than those that have already been agreed.

We argue this case on the basis of: 

  • the total lack of infrastructure to support further development
  • regular peak hour gridlock at the Clock roundabout 
  • major redevelopment plans in Codicote (and further afield at Langley) which will increase traffic flow along the B656, which is already overcapacity at peak periods
  • the recent approval of a housing development at the former Entech site in Woolmer Green and traffic flows on the B197
  • lack of adequate medical provision for an increased population – Lister and QEII Hospitals are running at capacity – and 3-week waiting for GP appointments in local surgeries.

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 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.

 

The Project Manager Reports -The Local Plan Threatens

LOCAL PLAN UPDATE:

 

The latest edition of the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Newsletter is now available.

Note that the current assessment of housing needs is now 16000, i.e. 3500 more than when the Plan was submitted!

WHBC will be looking at what bits of Green Belt they can now build on.

We need to object to any further development in the villages in the Northern part of the Borough – we are pretty much at capacity with what is already planned.

The Borough Council should be asked to look again at the huge amounts of space around Cuffley and Brookmans Park where development would be more suitable, nearer to London and transport links, and with the possibility to provide suitable infrastructure.

In Welwyn, our roads just cannot take any more traffic!  Our schools cannot take any more children; our doctors’ surgeries are full and the Lister Hospital A & E is running almost at capacity.   That is just the tip of the iceberg.

The local election has left the same group in control of WHBC, albeit only just.   They are responsible for the current situation and for finding solutions.  We will need to keep a very close eye on their proposals.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

 

May 2018

 

Local Plan – The Inspector is already on the Case

Following the submission of the Local Plan for independent examination on 15th May 2017, Melvyn Middleton has been appointed as the government planning inspector who will conduct the independent examination into the the soundness of the Local Plan.

And he has already started!

For details, and to learn more about  the process, please look at the Borough Councils Newsletter which follows:

Local Plan Newsletter September 2017 (1)

The Project Manager Reports – Local Plans should be Appropriate

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?’

Sir,

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.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager, Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

Former WHBC Councillor (Independent) for Welwyn West

The Draft Local Plan Proposed for Submission – Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Introduction

This is the third and final article on the Draft Local Plan; previous articles have presented The Facts, and The Fall Out.

As with the earlier articles, the following comments are the result of the work of the Welwyn Planning sub-group, formed by the Welwyn Parish Council for the express purpose of analysing the Draft Local Plan, and including elected representatives of the Welwyn Parish Council Planning Committee. the Welwyn Parish Plan Action Group, and the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group.

General Comment

It is self evident that Housing Developments should not be undertaken without regard to the impact on the local infrastructure, of schools, traffic and health, but it is commonly felt in the community that this is exactly what planners and developers do.

There is a concern that whereas the needs of an upcoming development might be assessed, there is also a need to take into account the impact of very recently completed, or part completed developments.

In regard to Schools, provision has to be made by law for childrens’ education and, unlike increases in traffic, cannot be ignored.

For this reason when discussing the need for primary school provision in the Civic Parish of Welwyn, the Planning sub-group has taken into account the recently completed 100 houses on the Frythe development (Wilshere Park) in order to judge or make an assessment of needs.

Other infrastructural issues relate to funding, and specifically the application of section 106 Agreements and CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) which Welwyn Hatfield has yet to introduce. The pond is cloudy at the very time when clarity is needed.

When the Borough introduces CIL there will be statutory rules regarding restrictions on the number of financial contributions obtained through planning obligations which can be ‘pooled’ to fund particular infrastructure. The effect of this is that planning obligations under section 106 will remain in use alongside a CIL charge, but for a more restricted set of purposes.

For this reason, the Infrastructure Plan should explain the consequences, advantages or disadvantages of waiting until late 2017 or 2018 before the CIL is introduced.

Matters specific to Welwyn Parish

Housing Numbers

The infrastructure comments below are based upon the following estimates of housing numbers in and around Welwyn Parish obtained from the relevant plans.

Welwyn, recently completed (see comment above)     100

Welwyn: Approved but not yet built.                             150

Welwyn : In the Plan                                                     100

Woolmer Green: Plan                                                   150

Codicote: NH Plan                                                        315

From what we know from Local Plans we can expect 450 of the houses recently completed or planned for this part of Welwyn Hatfield to be occupied in the first 5 years of the Plan and approximately half of those planned for Codicote in the same period.

Education

The demand within the parish will be for primary school places and this demand, according to HCC calculations, equates to IFE, ie 30 children, which agrees with the WHBC estimate (Para 6.59) and capacity throughout the primary school years ultimately of 210..

The primaries at Woolmer Green and Oaklands have neither the capacity nor the space to expand. We understand, (although no details have been provided) that the same applies to St John’s Digswell.

St Mary’s could expand to be a 3FE school and, given its Outstanding rating from Ofsted this would be attractive to residents. It is appreciated that this would require the loss of contiguous playing fields but this is permissible (Paras 6.24/25). There is a statement that St Mary’s is a listed building. This is not correct.

The alternative, a new school, which would have to be a Free School/academy, would require land of its own on which to be established.

Codicote is in the Borough of North Hertfordshire but its 1FE primary (recently reduced from 2FE?) is short of places. Development in Codicote will put further pressure on the local school and some consequent spill over to Welwyn Parish  (Para 6.59). unless that school is expanded. Some influx from Knebworth might also be expected (Para 6.59).

Traffic

Para 5.104: There is a traffic mitigation plan for the 4 roundabout complex associated with the A1(M) junction 6. In addition to southbound traffic  from the motorway itself the feeder roads from the north,  B197 from Knebworth and Woolmer Green and B656 from Hitchin and Codicote will, by 2022 be carrying significantly more traffic into Welwyn Hatfield via Welwyn.

With the intended timescale of development (see above) the traffic mitigation scheme is scheduled for the period 2023-2027.

This is too late!

The Traffic Mitigation Plan  is a small scheme, costing approximately £0.5M. and the Borough should urge the Highways Agency to bring this small scheme forward by several years to minimise the traffic problems that these developments will make, rather than attempting unsatisfactory patch-up solutions later.

Health

The Bridge Cottage Practice in Welwyn has a patient list of just over 16000. Its catchment area extends beyond Codicote to Kimpton, where there is a satellite surgery by appointment only.

The algorithm used to calculate GP needs (para 7.30) suggests that 8.5 full time GPs will be needed to service the expanded list (17000). It is not clear to us what the current staffing level is but this figure should be the target.

Conclusions

We will hope to be able to fill in the gaps as we move forwards.

 

 

The Draft Local Plan Proposed for Submission – the Fall Out

WPAG – Local Plan – Analysis and conclusions

This is the second of three WPAG articles which present a summary of the analysis undertaken by a Welwyn Planning sub-group, whose membership included the WPAG. The first dealt with ‘The Facts‘, and this one deals with ‘the Fall Out‘. A third article will cover our analysis of the Borough’s Infrastructure Plan, when we have reached our conclusions.

The Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group has contributed to a joint response submitted to the Council today, 21st October 2016, and we acknowledge the quality of research and analysis from within that Group, and particularly the contribution of Ian Skidmore, of the Parish Plan Action Group.

The Facts – a reminder,

The first WPAG article posted on 6th October dealt with ‘The Facts‘ and addressed fundamental issues about:

  • the purpose and objectives of the Local Plan;
  • Borough Council targets which aim to meet projected housing and employment needs up to 2032;
  • the approach followed by the Council
  • how to go about registering and responding
  • the need to focus on the legality (of compliance) and soundness of the Council’s approach.

The Fall Out (for Welwyn)

This WPAG article now deals with the Impact of the Local Plan on the Civic Parish of Welwyn. It will separately address the settlements of Oaklands/Mardley Heath, Welwyn, and Digswell.

Legal Compliance – our conclusion

It is the WPAG view that the Local Plan, in this draft form, is legally compliant. The borough has:

  • followed the Local Development Scheme,
  • followed the Local Development Scheme,
  • prepared the Plan in accordance with the Statement of Community Involvement,
  • followed regulatory requirements for consultation
  • complied with their duty to cooperate
  • complied with the Sustainability Appraisal.

Soundness – our conclusion

All the evidence is that the Local Plan:

  • has been produced in a positive manner;
  • justifies decisions
  • makes decisions that are evidence based
  • is effective, in the sense that it can be delivered
  • is compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

So – what is there to shout about for Welwyn?

Housing developments?

Infrastructure?

As a member of the Planning sub-group, we have examined, and re-examined, all the development sites proposed for Welwyn, including those now being put forward for approval, and also all those which have been rejected by the Council.

We have examined each site in turn, and to each we have applied our test for legality and soundness so that we can be confident in our conclusions. For a detailed description of these sites, go to the Borough Council Consultation Portal.

Sites for Housing Development  (The Infrastructure Delivery Plan will be addressed separately).

The Housing Sites Selection process is encapsulated in a background paper which brings together key conclusions arising from the following strands of evidence and appraisals:

  • The Housing and |Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA)
  • The Green Belt Study Review (Parts 1 & 2)
  • An appraisal of Green Belt boundaries
  • The Sustainability Appraisal
  • Flood Risk
  • Sequential test, and
  • An appraisal of strategic advantages or disadvantages.

To study these papers in detail go to the Housing Sites Selection – Background Paper

Local Plan Section 17 – Oaklands & Mardley Heath

We consider the draft Local Plan to be legally compliant.

WHY?

Several sites have been proposed for development, of which some have been rejected and others are in the Local Plan. We believe the process employed in making these decisions was sound, with the single exception of GTLAA04.HS32 which is discussed below.

Sites Rejected by the Borough Council:

OMH6: (Danesbury Park Road) As originally proposed this site included both a LNR and a designated wildlife site.. When these were discounted the site was not contiguous with a settlement excluded from the greenbelt and so was deemed contrary to NPPF development in the grreenbelt at Stage 1 of the assessment (HELAA 2016, Appx, D)

OMH7 Land at 22 The Avenue, passed Phase 2 of the HLAA but was subsequently rejected because of difficulties establishing a defendable Green Belt Boundary once the current boundary, the A1(M) was breached. (Housing Site Selection Background Paper 13.10 and Appx.D June 2016. This is consistent with the NPPF.

Sites accepted by the Borough Council:

OMH5, HS 17: (2a to 12 Great North Road), OMH8  HS 16: (2 Great North Road) were both reviewed  positively during the various phases of the HELAA  (HELAA 2016) and are proposed to be taken forward.

GTLAA04. HS32.The Four Oaks Gypsy/Traveller site has currently 5 permitted pitches and is in the Green Belt. The Plan allows for 6 further pitches, a total of 11, and exclusion from the green belt..  We do not consider this to be sound. This site is a private not a public site and so cannot contribute to the identified need for public sites in the borough and, from this standpoint, fails to be either positively prepared or justified. The planning history of the site is complex but in summary a six-Authority review in 2007 concluded that this site was not suitable to accommodate further pitches. Following this the borough has until now consistently maintained that the site is only suitable for 5 pitches, i.e. 10 caravans and their associated support buildings. Changing the Green Belt boundaries to exclude this site is feasible and the new boundary would be defendable but this does not in any way alter the capacity of the site.  The Inspector should also be aware that, in parallel with this plan there is a planning application (N6/2016/0211/S73B), currently on hold, that seeks permission for up to 20 caravans of which no more than 5 should be static or mobile homes.

Local Plan Section 18 – Welwyn SADM 28

We consider the draft Local Plan to be legally compliant.

WHY?

Welwyn is the historic centre of Welwyn Civic Parish  It is excluded from the Green Belt. Several sites have been proposed for development, some have been rejected and three have been included in the Local Plan. It is our view that the processes involved in making these decisions were sound. See below.

Sites Rejected by the Borough Council.

Wel1 (Land at Kimpton Road) The borough rejected this site and the adjacent Wel2 ( Land to the East of Welwyn Cemetary) and Wel15 (Land to the south of Linces Farm) sites for several reasons although they passed the HELAA Phases. They should be considered together (Housing Site Selection-Background Paper Appendix E). Most importantly the expansion of the green belt boundary would lead to ribbon development between Welwyn and Codicote, and one of the prime purposes of the green belt is to prevent such coalescence (NPPF para 80). There are serious issues with access, requiring a new bridge and widening of a rural road with effects on a designated wildlife site (WS5 and an LNR and there is  potential for flooding . The site topography is open and housing on this site would dominate the landscape

Site Wel5, the “school reserve site” was rejected at HELAA Phase 1 as it was impossible to achieve access. HELAA 2016, appendix D).

Sites Wel6,(Kimpton Road Gravel Pit)  Wel8 (Land at Rollswood Road) Wel10 (Whitehill),Wel12 (Northof Reynards Road),Wel13 Field opposite 40 Reynards Road) were all rejected at HELAA Phase 1 as they were not in or contiguous with an established settlement  (HELAA 2016, appendix D) and thus were contrary to NPPF (para 80).

Wel14. Because of access issues this site would only be viable in conjunction with  Wel 1 and Wel 2 and the reasons for rejecting it mirror those for the other two sites  (HELAA 2016, Appendix G).

Wel16 (Whitehill).  Access to this site is via a village road that is mainly single width with poor pedestrian provision and with a pinch point that cannot be modified. (see Highways comment in HELAA 2016, appendix G).  Emergency access via single track roads would be problematic. The connection with the existing settlement is tenuous.

Sites Accepted by the Borough Council:

Wel3; HS 20 Previously developed land, (Affinity Water Site). Three houses have already been built on this site and the plan is for 7 more, a total of 10. Assessment suggests there are no unmanageable constraints to developing this site. (HELAA2016, appendix E)

Wel4 HS 19. (Sandyhurst)  This partially developed site would extend the green belt boundary  to the A1(M) junction 6 exit slip road which is a good permanent boundary. The borough resisted extending the site further to the southwest to maintain a significant and defendable gap between Welwyn and Welwyn Garden City. (HELAA2016, appendix E). Excellent public transport connectivity.

Wel11 HS18. (The Vineyards) This site, part previously developed land, would have moderate to strong green belt boundaries. There would be some loss of openness. Good access to public transport. (HELAA2016, appendix E). Traffic sitelines will need to be managed.

Local Plan Section 19 – Digswell

We consider the draft Local Plan to be legally compliant and to be sound.

Why:

Digswell is one of three distinct settlements that comprise Welwyn Civic Parish. It is excluded from the Green Belt. It was the subject of a Character Appraisal in 2004 that was adopted as a SPD by the borough. Several sites in Digswell have been considered for development.  None has been taken forward. It appears to us that the process employed was sound

Dig 1, (Hillside land behind 2 New Road), was rejected in the Phase 1 HELAA (HELAA2016 appendix D) with concerns over visual  openness  and drainage and water run-off leading to flooding. This is in accordance with NPPF.

Dig 2 (Adjacent to 81 Hertford Road) and Dig 3 (Land North of Harmer Green Lane)were rejected at HELAA Phase 1 as they are not contiguous with a settlement excluded from the Green Belt and so were contrary to NPPF on green belt development. Dig4 was rejected at Phase 2 for similar reasons (HELAA 2016, appendix C).

Dig 5, (land adjacent to 76 Hertford Road) was rejected at HELAA Phase 1 as it is not contiguous with the settlement and the majority is within a registered historic park and garden (HELAA 2016, appendix D). Part of the site is in a flood zone 3a.

Conclusion

The Report of the Welwyn Planning sub-group was submitted to the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council on Friday 21st October 2016