15/04 November 2015

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

Monthly Digest

Edition No. 15/04                   November 2015


All quiet on the Welwyn Front?

The first residents of Clock Gardens have moved in, but the builders have not yet moved out and we wait to see if the developer will repair the grass verges damaged over the many months that they have been working there.

And as the builders’ dust settles, and more residents move in, we wait with bated breath the expected added congestion at the entrance to Clock Gardens and on the Clock Roundabout itself.

We also wait to see if County Highways will stop sitting on the fence and surprise us with a magic solution that will not take 5 years to research. Will they consult with the Danesbury Residents Association for advice on how to install a temporary traffic light that might just allow local traffic to access the roundabout with a degree of safety, and which might just have the added benefit of acting as a deterrent to Motorway rat-running?

But, putting these anxieties aside, we must not forget to welcome all the new residents of Clock Gardens. We must encourage them to play an active part in our community, and what could be a better way for them to start than by subscribing to these WPAG Monthly Newsletters, and beginning to discover what goes on in Welwyn.

All quiet on the Welwyn front? Not at all.

The WPAG has been going for some 60 years and we are now more active than ever, trying to draw your attention to key planning issues that affect our future, whilst at the same time drawing attention to the many fine amenities that Welwyn offers.

The Welwyn Parish Plan Action Group have recently produced a Welcome booklet which it is planned should be made widely available. In the next few weeks we hope to publish more details about the booklet and identify how and where copies might be obtained.

Looking further ahead, the Borough is scheduled to produce the next draft of the Local Plan in the Summer of 2016. Across the Borough some 61 new or amended housing sites have been put forward by landowners since the previous April 2015 cut-off date. Some 6 of these are on green belt sites in Welwyn village and Digswell, and 2 in Oaklands. On top of these there are 3 previously proposed sites in Welwyn which are unchanged.

But none of these new and/or amended sites have yet been assessed and no conclusions should be drawn.The Borough Planners are undertaking a Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) in order to classify them as suitable, available and deliverable. Other factors such as their encroachment onto green belt land, and the defensibility of so doing, will be considered in due course to determine if the new sites should in fact be added to those sites already identified as ‘More favourable’ in the earlier draft and, if they are, then included in the Consultation document in the Summer of 2016.

We do not know if the projected housing figure requirement for Welwyn Hatfield will remain at 12500, but the first Consultation document identified a shortfall of 2500. Clearly the Borough will be under pressure to use urban rather than greenbelt sites but if those urban sites are found to be unsuitable, then green belt sites will come under more pressure.

So for the above reasons, recent ‘scare’ reports of 1000 new houses in Welwyn have to be kept in context. Nobody yet knows the scale of the problem facing us.

The WPAG has joined a tripartite working party with the Welwyn Parish Council Planning Committee, and the Parish Plan Action Group, to formulate our agreed views on the new housing sites, and to offer our early thoughts to the Borough Planners.

Over the next month or so, the WPAG also plans to highlight and publish our thoughts on each of the new and/or amended sites in Welwyn, Digswell and Oaklands Mardley Heath, as News Items on our website www.wpag.org.uk . Please look out for those.

One final reminder, and repeated with no apology, if you subscribe to these free Newsletters but are not yet a fully paid-up member of the WPAG, please consider helping us meet our costs by signing-on as a member. We are a Registered Charity and we have no income other than membership subscriptions. You can join by following the links on the Newsletters page on the website. The annual fee is only £4 for single members and £6 for households.

And if you are already a fully paid-up member, please be aware that at our recent AGM Jim Evans retired as our Treasurer after holding that position for some 17 years. We all thank Jim Evans for his earnest work and commitment to this organisation and, in doing so, we remind members that we desperately need a replacement Treasurer. If you believe you might be able to help, please contact the Chairman or the Secretary, whose contact details are on the website.

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