Local Plan – WPAG Objections

On 23rd January 2020, the WPAG lodged two questions with the WHBC Cabinet Planning & Parking Panel (CPPP) in regard to the four additional sites proposed for Welwyn following the WHBC’s 2019 Call for (further) Sites . They relate to sites identified as: Wel 1, Wel 2, Wel 6 and Wel 15

The two questions and the replies are listed as “No.5 Russell Haggar” and “No.6 Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group” in the Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel Public Questions on 23rd January 2020 document. Both the WPAG Chair and Vice-Chair were invited to speak at short notice at the meeting of WHBC CPPP on 23rd January and their submissions can be seen and heard on the webcast of the meeting (at the broadcast times of 00:20:03 and 00:23:06)

QUESTION 5: Asked by Russell Haggar, Vice Chair, WPAG

WPAG question the accuracy of the WHBC Environment Statement that there are bus stops within 400m of the development sites.

Added to which the roads in neighbouring areas towards Hawbush are narrowly restricted with substantial levels of on-street parking. A full-sized bus would struggle to operate around these roads, or pass along School Lane.  The current bus service could not in any practical sense constitute a service for the projected 248 new homes, and not therefore offset the environmental impact, despite what is stated in the sustainability assessment for the four proposed development sites.

Similarly, statements in the sustainability assessment about proximity to ‘institutes for training and lifelong learning’ are similarly inaccurate and misleading.

QUESTION 6: Asked by Sandra Kyriakides, Chair, WPAG.

This question about Singlers Marsh was partly answered at the CPPP meeting itself.

WHBC confirmed that an area of land from within Singlers Marsh would be needed for the proposed development, and that WHBC is the ‘third party landowner’ referred to as supplying that land. 

We learned too that WHBC had confirmed its willingness to enter into an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the developer if the site is taken forward.

WPAG considers that the level of information provided by WHBC in their response and analyses to the Singlers Marsh questions to be very poor. WPAG has therefore made an official request for WHBC to provide full details of the authorities with which it consulted in connection with the proposed road- and bridge-widening at Singlers Marsh, together with archaeological, environmental and other sustainability assessments for the proposed sites Wel 1, Wel 2, Wel 6 and Wel 15.

WPAG has received an acknowledgement of this request, with a commitment to reply within four weeks. But we note that should that reply be insufficient, it seems that any
subsequent clarification will fall beyond the end of the upcoming consultation period.

Conclusion

For the above reasons, WPAG asked that the proposals for Wel 1, Wel 2, Wel 6 and Wel 15 be withdrawn from the Local PLan recommendations for the following reasons:

  1. Proof of thorough, appropriate and adequate consultation procedures has not been provided.
  2. Water company and nature agency responses have yet to be seen with regard to ascertaining the projected effect of the extra run-off and drainage from 248 houses on the flood risk and ecology of Singlers Marsh, and on the River Mimram’s wellbeing – given that these are currently open fields and a designated local nature reserve situated within the Green Belt.
  3. Wel 15 lies below the slope down from the cemetery, making it a questionable location for housing development given the potential for migration over time of buried items due to the influence of weather and nature.
  4. A full archaeological assessment of Wel 15 and Singlers Marsh should be carried out. Not only is Wel 15 the presumed heart of the original Roman village, and therefore the most sensitive spot archaeologically, but also the southern end of Singlers Marsh (ie where any road-widening would occur) contains a large amount of discarded Roman-era remains from the spoil that was dumped there when works were performed to excavate the gap for Link Road.
  5. Welwyn’s cemetery is currently surrounded by fields in a beautiful rural setting. The four additional development locations will quite literally encircle it, utterly changing the character and nature of this peaceful resting place for the village’s departed souls.
  6. These four sites will not only generate increased car traffic along Fulling Mill Lane and onto Link Road towards Welwyn Garden City, but it will also increase cross-country traffic along Kimpton Road towards the M1 and Luton airport. Kimpton Road is a dangerous single-track lane, often prone to flooding from the nearby river and usually heavily pot-holed. Given the need to protect its delightful rural character there are no existing proposals to improve this road, and increased traffic along this route would be highly dangerous to all road users.
  7. The allocation of proposed sites for further development in Welwyn takes absolutely no account of the fact that the village has absorbed substantial amounts of new housing (relative to existing housing stock) in the past decade: Clockhouse Gardens, Wendover Gardens, Wilshere Park, Ford garage/London Rd and Nodeway). All these developments have taken place without any investment in the village’s infrastructure, and with no allowance for the differing range of development impacts on: heritage, infrastructure, topography, etc.
  8. A petition against the proposal to widen the road and bridge at Fulling Mill Lane/Singlers Marsh has been signed by over 600 local supporters in just 48 hours.

(The above edited report was based on papers prepared by Sandra Kyriakides and Russell Haggar).

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