What is the Draft Local Plan Proposed Submission?
The Local Plan and its supporting documents were published on 30th August 2016 in order for responses (‘representations’) to be made prior to its submission to an independent Inspector for examination in the Spring of 2017.
Once submitted by the Council, it will be the task of the Inspector to decide if it can be adopted. This means that any responses made from now on will be forwarded to the Inspector. For this reason, responses have to be made in a certain way, and they must address the purposes of examination set out in the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, which are:
- Does the Plan comply with the legal requirements?
- Is the Plan a sound plan for the future of Welwyn Hatfield?
This concerns the process of preparing the Plan:
- Has the programme followed the Local Development Scheme?
- Has it been in accordance with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement?
- Does it meet the requirements for content and consultation set out in the Town & Country Planning (Local Planning) Regulations?
- Has the Council complied with requirements arising from the duty to cooperate on strategic and cross-boundary issues?
- Do the Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Regulatory Assessment form a suitable assessment of sustainability, and follow the Sustainability Appraisal Guidance?
This concerns the actual content of the Local Plan.
- Has it been Positively prepared?
- Is it justified?
- Will it be effective?
- Is it consistent with National policy?
General Advice when responding;
There is a lot of material guidance within the Guidance Note for Respondents,and it is recommended that you read this before responding on the soundness of the Local Plan.
Responses must be made through the Council’s online portal, or by emailing or by post. Forms are available on the Council website, and are also available at the Welwyn Parish Council Offices, in Lockleys Drive. (Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
We are reminded that the consultation is not a ‘vote’, and the Inspector will give the same weight to an issue whether it appears in hundreds of responses or only in one. Residents Associations, and representative groups are encouraged to make a single response, which should nevertheless indicate how many the group represents, and how the response has been authorised.
All responses must be received by 5 p.m. on 24th October 2016.
So – What does the Draft Local Plan Proposed for Submission contain?
The Local Plan sets out a blue print for future growth of Welwyn Hatfield, and contains a planning strategy for the borough, identifying sites where development will happen over the next 15 years, and policies to guide decisions on plannng applications.
Public Consultation started on Tuesday 30th August and closes at 5 p.m. on Monday 24th October.
The Local Plan contains:
- a vision for the future of the borough
- growth targets for housing, employment and retail development
- strategic policies
- development management policies
- site allocations
- Policies Maps.
Summary & Guide
A good place to start to get a grasp of the scope of the Local Plan is to study the Summary & Guide . Go online and get your own online copy.
In the Summary & Guide you will learn that the Housing Target to meet the demands of the borough’s future generations is 12,000 new homes, and that the Council asserts that 6,500 homes can be delivered without developing on Green Belt land.
But because 79% of our Borough is Green Belt Land, the amount of this which is required for new development in the Local Plan is less than 4%.
The Local Plan will provide space to create 16,900 new jobs in the plan period, helping build a strong local economy.
Objectives of the Local Plan
The Summary & Guide presents Objectives of the Plan, including:
- delivery of a sustainable pattern of developments by directing most new development to the towns and limited development to the villages.
- working with service providers to deliver mixed and sustainable communities
- to support and reinforce the role of the borough’s villages and neighbourhoods and create new sustainable neighbourhoods
- to provide an adequate supply and mix of housing
- to protect, maintain and where possible, enhance the historic and natural environment
- to enhance opportunities for, and access to, recreation, heritage, cultural activities and improve green links
- to sustain the viability of our villages and rural economy
- to maintain and enhance the vitality and viability of our town, neighbourhood and village centres.
How Much Growth?
Welwyn Hatfield needs more housing and jobs to enable the next generation to afford their own homes, access varied employment opportunities and enjoy healthy vibrant communities.
The population is growing, migration levels have been high in recent years, more people live on their own, and are living longer, creating a high demand for property.
Policy SP2 sets Targets for Growth, and how best to distribute growth around the borough. The towns and villages are tightly constrained by the green belt and there is insufficient capacity in the towns and villages to meet the future demand for growth.
To meet the need for 6,200 new dwellings, the Council considers that exceptional circumstances justify removing land from the green belt in sustainable locations around the edges of the borough’s towns and some villages. Land is also proposed to be removed from the green belt at Symondshyde north-west of Hatfield to create a new village.
Policy SP3 deals with Settlement Strategy and Green Belt Boundaries, and proposes that Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield are the primary focus for development, and that the excluded villages are a secondary focus, compatible with a more limited range of job opportunities, shops, services and other facilities available within them.
Distribution of housing growth: Welwyn Digswell Oaklands & Mardley Heath
Completions 2013-16 133 3 9
Capacity within urban areas 153 12 16
Capacity from Green belt areas 67 0 31
Total capacity 2013-2032 353 15 56
New Homes at Welwyn – Policy SADM29
The Vineyards HS18 (Wel11) residential 30
Sandyhurst HS19 (Wel4) residential 30
School Lane HS20 (Wel3) residential 7
New Homes at Oaklands & Mardley Heath – Policy SADM28
2 Gt North Rd HS16 (OMH8) residential 5
Four Oaks, Gt North Rd HS32 (GTLAA04) Gypsy and Travellers Site – pitch extension 6
Land to rear of 2-12 Gt North Rd HS17 (OMH5) residential 20
Other Policies outlined in the Summary are as follows:
- Policy SP8 The Local Economy
- Policy SP9 Place Making & High Quality Design
- Policy SP10 Sustainable Design and construction
- Policy SP11 Protection and enhancement of critical environmental assets
- Policy SP12 Strategic Green Infrastructure
- Policy SP13 Infrastructure Delivery
- Policy SP14 New Schools
- Policy SP25 Rural Areas
- Policy SP26 Neighbourhood Planning
Other Documents available online are:
- Sustainability Appraisal – you can comment on the assessment.
- Habitats Regulations Assessment – you can comment on the assessment.
- Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan – which identifies infrastructure requirements which arise to meet the identified need for housing and employment and retail, including community facilities, education, roads and sewerage. You can comment on the contents of the Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan.
How you can get involved.
The best way to comment on the draft Local Plan Proposed Submission is online, but there are Forms which can be completed and returned by post.
It is important to know that before you can enter an online comment, you must first ‘Register’, because it is a two-stage process – so do not leave your comment to the last minute as you might get caught out.