Under 2 weeks to have your say…

http://bit.do/whbcnewsites

“The Local Plan is probably the most important document to be produced for the borough in a generation.”

– WHBC website

Our council now has an important public consultation running until June 18th. The government Planning Inspector, scrutinising their Local Plan at the end of last year, advised them the housing target was now too low and that they should make a new call for further housing sites across the Borough. The Local Plan was originally intended to be adopted by Winter 2014, it has now slipped by over 5 years and will not be adopted until June 2020, following the new call for sites and then further scrutiny. Part of the reason for the increase is that the government formulated housing target means the figure usually rises year on year, this means it has risen in the 5 years since the original adoption date of Winter 2014.

The call for sites has resulted in a large increase in the housing numbers for Welwyn Garden City. Locations now proposed include:

Town Centre North: 480. Woodside Centre, The Commons (former Burnside School) 45.  Norton building 150, Bio Park 200, Broadwater Road 145. Bridge Rd East 250, B&Q site 100. Panshanger Airfield (Green belt area) 165.  Digswell Hill , behind Uplands 165. Oldings Corner (beside boating lake) 150. Digswell New Road 180.  There are many more new sites proposed elsewhere.

All of this is in addition to the over 4,000 new dwellings already proposed in and around the town, such at those at Shredded Wheat.

If all  these proposed sites went ahead it would see around 2,700 dwellings built in the town, a rise of about 70% on the current figure. Many, or even most, would be flats as is the current trend. We are of course concerned about the impact this may have on our Garden City. As we prepare to celebrate the town in 2020 the fabric of the town will be challenged by this very significant extension. One founding principle of a Garden City is that it protects itself from urban sprawl and over-development.

We urge residents to engage with this new consultation and have a say, make your voice heard!

You can find it by clicking on this link:

http://bit.do/whbcnewsites

This consultation closes on June 18th at 5:00PM.

Alternatively, you can complete and return a response form by email to localplan@welhat.gov.uk or by post to: Planning Policy, Welwyn Hatfield Borough
Council, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6AE.

One of the sites in the town centre known as “Town Centre North” has seen its allocation rise from 98 dwellings to up to 480 dwellings. The map below shows the expanded area of this increased allocation, click to enlarge it.

As previously this consultation is likely to encourage a bun fight between different parts of the Borough, all trying to fend off development on their own doorstep in the hope that it will be placed somewhere else. We encourage WGC residents to have their say on these proposals. For example, what is the impact of all this on:

This large increase in population will see the town become increasingly urbanised. Traffic, footfall, noise, rubbish, parking, will all affect the much cherished ambiance and feel of the town. Howard’s intended marriage of town and country will be severely eroded. The town becoming congested and far more akin to a City than a Garden City. This aspect does not seem to have been considered at all in our Council’s proposals.

  • The Green Belt,  reducing the space between towns and settlements.  The Garden City was instrumental in the setting up of Green Belts as we know them. Yet ours is about to be reduced to allow for the very thing the Green Belt designed to prevent. For example, if all this goes ahead the gap between housing developments in Hertford and WGC would be reduced to little over one mile.

 

  • Traffic –  Congestion around the town at peak times is increasing, it is worse now than it has ever been. Some recent attempts to better manage traffic flows don’t appear to be working, Broadwater road and Bridge road traffic lights are one example. With thousands of additional dwellings destined for that immediate vicinity congestion is set to get a lot worse. Not forgetting a rise in pollution levels that would accompany more vehicle movements. While there are plans for new homes there is very little detail about highway improvements, when they will happen, and how they will be paid for. All of this does not fit with our “Town designed for healthy living”.

 

  • What guarantee is there that any of the required services and infrastructure will actually materialise? What will happen if they don’t? For example, the replacement of the footbridge at the train station was seen as integral to the redevelopment of the Shredded Wheat site with 1,340 flats. Despite it being a key requirement plans for a replacement bridge have already fallen by the wayside. Instead the Shredded Wheat land-owner will just make a financial contribution to the refurbishment of the current bridge. It will not be widened to cope with the large increase in footfall that is sure to come. This is indicative of the way planning applications can quickly become watered down, the ‘nice to have’ add-on’s can quickly disappear, even before any bricks are laid.

These are just a few points to consider, there are of course many more. Please do submit yours to this consultation.

 

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