Broadwater Developments Site Overview

There are 4 separate sites on the Broadwater Development (see Site Plan below):

  1. BioPark (old Roche Building) – Planning Application open for comment
  2. North Site by the Wheat Quarter  – increased Planning Application open for comment
  3. South Site by MTVH – increased Planning Application open for comment
  4. South Site Phase 1 by MTVH – under construction

Note Planning Applications are open for comment up to certain dates, but comments are allowed up to the date of the relevant Planning Meeting.

Links to comment websites and suggested text for comments are shown on a previous post.

Base image source: Google Maps

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Object now to the latest Broadwater Road (Shredded Wheat) proposals

PLEASE ACT NOW!!

Broadwater Road south site development March 21st 2021

The emerging southern site apartment blocks on Broadwater Road, March 2021

The sky SHOULD NOT be the limit for the Shredded Wheat site. We shouldn’t allow the  Wheat Quarter “reach for the sky” if we are to keep the Garden City a ‘Garden’ City. The developer’s new plan seeks to build a mini-metropolis in the heart of our town. Have your say now!

Many residents are dismayed at the revised planning application for the Shredded Wheat site, currently open for comments on the WHBC planning website. Full details of how to object and suggested points you may want to raise are given below.

Shredded Wheat site "The Wheat Quarter" Welwyn Garden City

The southern site from the railway bridge

In summary, the consent is now being sought for:

Blocks of 9, 10 or 11 storeys, totalling of nearly 2500 flats/apartments.  The Council’s own plan for the area – the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) – states that only in exceptional circumstances should anything over 5 storeys be considered.   The SPD states homes should be a mix of flats and houses. Neither of the Wheat Quarter sites propose anything other than flats. The BioPark site is offering about ten houses, all the rest being flats. You may recall the mass opposition to the Tesco (Spenhill) plan for this site some years ago. That was thrown out by the council because it contravened the SPD, now we have another application that also significantly contravenes the Council’s own planning statement for the site. It took huge local opposition to get the Tesco proposal rejected. Time is short for residents to make their voice heard on this new plan, so we urge you to act right now.

There is Council policy about a mix of private and social housing on new sites. The proportion of social rented housing here adds up to about 6%, far less than the Council’s target of 15%.

Wheat Quarter, Welwyn Garden City

The uninviting frontage of the ‘Wheat Quarter’ currently, with it’s fetching iron barred windows.

Details of the building’s heritage status listing can be found here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1101084

The WHBC Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) from 2008 can be found on their website by CLICKING HERE.

If you want to comment (Objecting) to the Broadwater Road Proposals online please follow these steps:

Click on, or copy and paste the following into your web browser address bar:

To object to the Wheat Quarter proposal, 552 dwellings:

Full Planning Application:

https://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Display/6/2021/0181/MAJ

Link to comment page:
https://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Comment/6/2021/0181/MAJ

To object to the Wheat Quarter South Site proposal for 721 flats (currently under construction):

Full Planning Application:

https://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Display/6/2021/0671/MAJ

Link to comment page:
https://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Comment/6/2021/0671/MAJ

To object to the BioPark proposal, 289 dwellings:

Full Planning Application:

https://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Display/6/2020/3420/MAJ

Link to comment page:
https://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Comment/6/2020/3420/MAJ

Enter your name, email address and postcode in the data boxes provided. Click on “Find Address” to select your address.
In the “Type of Response” box please ensure you select the appropriate kind of response – either “Comment”, “Support” or “Objection”.
In the “Comments” box enter your comments (up to 1,000 characters – about 150 words).
You can add more in a separate attachment if you want to but it has to

Click on the green “Submit” box at the bottom of the form.

Alternatively you can send your objections as an email to the case officer: c.howe@welhat.gov.uk

Suggested Objection to Proposal 6/2021/0181/MAJ – The Wheat Quarter

The new proposal increases the number of dwellings by 50% from 811 to 1220, and building height to 9 storeys. This contradicts the Broadwater Road SPD limiting building to five storeys except in exceptional circumstances. External green spaces have been lost and replaced by big new building infills.  External spaces are essential in a post-pandemic world.   The development hides the Shredded Wheat silos and production hall. It will compromise the Broadwater Road street scene, overpowering the art deco Griffin Place and Mirage developments to the south. It is inappropriate for a Garden City, being too dense in nature (264 dwellings per hectare compared with 141 for a typical London social housing estate) and lacking greenery. It has no kinship with our unique town. It will house approximately 1200 more people than the 2019 application, making the local infrastructure inadequate to sustain a development large enough to form a new Ward in the town. Other sites within the borough, such as villages with high public transport accessibility, appear to have been ignored despite their suitability for development.

Suggested Objection Grounds to Proposal 6/2020/3420/MAJ – The BioPark:

Here 289 units are proposed to house 852 people in a very restricted site, with building height to 9 storeys. This contradicts WHBC’s own vision for Broadwater Road west which was to integrate the spirit of the Garden City with the very best of 21st century design. There is nothing of the Garden City spirit here. The development is clearly seen from the west side Conservation Area, as well as from Hatfield House. It will compromise the Broadwater Road street scene, overpowering the art deco and Mirage developments to the south. It is inappropriate for a Garden City due to its large scale, high density of homes and minimal greenery. It has no kinship with our unique town. This development offers only 216 parking spaces for 289 homes. There is no example where a development without adequate car parking has worked. Other sites within the borough, such as villages with high public transport accessibility, appear to have been ignored despite their suitability for development.

Suggested Objection Grounds to Proposal 6/2021/0671/MAJ – South Site:

The new proposal increases the number of dwellings from 643 to 929 and building height to 10 storeys. This contradicts the Broadwater Road SPD limiting building to five storeys except in exceptional circumstances. The development will compromise the Broadwater Road street scene, overpowering the neighbouring art deco Griffin Place and Mirage developments. It is inappropriate for a Garden City, being too dense in nature and lacking greenery. External green spaces have been lost and replaced by big new building infills.  External spaces are essential in a post-pandemic world.  It has no kinship with our unique town. It will house just over 900 more people than proposed in the 2019 application. The local infrastructure is inadequate to sustain this many extra people.
Other sites within the borough, such as villages with high public transport accessibility, appear to have been ignored despite their suitability for development.

You can of course also make your views know to your local Borough Councillor. Those who sit on the Development Management Committee may not be willing to speak out as we are now in the Local Election purdah period, but the others should. With an election looming you may want to ask them where they themselves stand on this extremely important issue for the town. But it is more important to put in your objection as above.

You can find details of all Councillors here: https://democracy.welhat.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=321

Details of the Development Management Committee and those who sit on it are here: https://democracy.welhat.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=156

Wheat Quarter, Shredded Wheat, Welwyn Garden City

The sorry state of the grade 2 listed former Shredded Wheat building. With no external maintenance for a decade it appears as if the owners would like it to become beyond economical repair.

Historic England sets out its guidance for listed building owners in the following link. It points out that local councils also have powers to ensure maintenance is carried out. To the Society’s knowledge this has never been pursued by WHBC. See here: https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/hpg/assistanceforowners/maintenance/#Section2Text

 

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BioPark Development Increases Concrete City Fear

Plans to turn the BioPark site along Broadwater Road into the latest high rise residential development increase the likelihood of turning Broadwater Road’s west side into a high rise hell. The planned development will include high rise blocks as tall as the present BioPark, but with a greater footprint. 289 new homes are proposed (but only 188 parking spaces).

The Government Inspector reviewing Welwyn Garden City’s Local Plan for development expressed surprise that, given that views from Hatfield House are compromised by sight of the BioPark, the original development was given planning permission. He warned that the Council should study relevant Acts of Parliament pertaining to stately homes carefully before giving this development planning permission.

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Wheat Quarter High Rise Along Broadwater Road

Let’s remember that the latest proposals for development along Broadwater Road will mean more dwellings, less greenery and greater threat to heritage. One of our members described these proposals as turning our town into “Welwyn Concrete City”.

Now there is an additional application to build more homes on the Shredded Wheat site between Hydeway and Bridge Road. It can be viewed in full on the planning section of the Welwyn Hatfield website. Its reference is 6/2021/0181/MAJ.

This application is centred around the heritage site of the Shredded Wheat silos and production hall. It recognizes that heritage harm will occur but be less than substantial (the developer’s opinion) and will restrict views of the silos to “glimpses”. It will increase the number of dwellings from 811 to 1241 and take the height of the buildings to 11 storeys, with considerably less landscaping than in any previous scheme. It assumes that residents will have less reliance on the car, so there won’t be a parking space for every unit.

The Society Committee feel that this development is incompatible with a Garden City and would be severely detrimental to the town.

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Poster Booth Refurbishment Begins

We are pleased to be able to announce that work has now started on the refurbishment of the poster booths in Howardsgate.  Obviously, work is dependent in part on reasonable weather but every effort will be made to ensure that it is completed by early Spring.

Residents will be familiar with these booths as for many years as their deteriorating condition has reflected adversely on the Town Centre.  Unfortunately, their ownership was unclear and no one was willing to maintain them.  Their ownership was finally resolved and they were acquired by the Society following a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The booths were designed by Louis de Soissons, the town’s designer and architect; and were erected to commemorate the Festival of Britain in 1951.  They were intended to bring a touch of colour to the Town Centre at a time when the country was still suffering from wartime regulations including food rationing.

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Welwyn Concrete City

Welwyn Concrete City – that’s how one Society member described plans for development of the Shredded Wheat site along Broadwater Road. Blocks up to 11 storeys high are proposed, with less greenery than initially promised.

New proposals have been published recently for the Shredded Wheat and Bio Park sites that will increase the number of new homes in this area, west of Broadwater Road, to 2454.

Shredded Wheat site

In 2019, The Wheat Quarter Ltd received planning approval from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to build 1,454 homes on the Shredded Wheat site on Broadwater Road, with:

–   811 units including care-homes on the Northern Side, north of Hyde Way, and

–    643 units including social & affordable housing on the Southern Side, south of Hyde Way.

In 2020, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, the appointed developer of the Southern Side commenced building 208 homes at the southern end of their site, near Otto Road. In October 2020, MTVH consulted to increase the number of homes on the remaining area of their site from 435 units to 747 units. This increase of 312 units makes total number of homes on the southern site 955. See https://wgc-southside-mtvh.co.uk/ for more information.

In January 2021, The Wheat Quarter Ltd began consulting on proposals to increase the number of homes on the Northern Side from 811 to 1,210 homes, an increase of 399 units. See their Design & Access Statement and Planning Statement for details. We encourage all members to view these proposals and the Society is preparing its response to this consultation.

BioPark

Further south on Broadwater Road, in 2019, the BioPark site was sold by University of Hertfordshire to HG Construction. In October 2020 the developer published its proposal to build 289 homes on that site. For further details please see BioPark Consultation (http://broadwatergardens.co.uk).

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First Zoom Meeting for Members Voted a Success!

Nearly 50 Society members enjoyed Brian Q Love’s presentation on Connected Cities. Brian is an engaging speaker who challenged us to think about how garden city principles might be used to accommodate population growth in the twenty first century. He even suggested that the area stretching along the railway from Stevenage to Potters Bar, incorporating Welwyn Garden City, might be an existing example of what a “Connected City” could be like.

Brian’s presentation raised many questions. The idea is based around the use of railways as the most efficient means of transporting us. The car plays little part in this vision of the future. This is always going to be a problem for many. The idea needs political will to succeed. At present it is hard to see where that support might come from.

Hopefully the presentation inspired us to think about the future development of our area, and of how to house the country’s growing population sustainably.

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Serious Concern over Shredded Wheat Site Development Proposals

We have contacted Metropolitan Thames Valley Homes to express our concerns over the proposed development at the southern end of the Shredded Wheat site. Here is our submission:

“We would not support the proposals as they stand. We have been approached by many of our members indicating that they are wholly opposed to what you are proposing; and we feel that it would have been advisable had you contacted the Society at an earlier date as we feel that it would have helped make your proposal more acceptable to those who already live here.

Further, we have to say now that you have given the town very little notice of your proposals.  Indeed, the doorstep leaflet outlining your ideas only reached a large number of our members in the week preceding the date on which your consultation was closing.  This is not sufficient time to take in something as large as this and which is so important to this town.

As you may know the Society is the largest environmental group in the garden city.  We seek to ensure that the best of the past is preserved and carried forward as the town moves into the future.

For that reason we would normally be happy to meet your organisation but, in view of Covid 19, we will write to you in more detail after further examining your proposals.  Perhaps we could arrange a Zoom meeting subsequently.”

 

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Panshanger Park Orangery Vandalism

The last remains of Panshanger House, the Orangery, is currently suffering a spate of damage and vandalism. The Orangery, sited close to the famous Panshanger Oak, is a listed building on the Heritage at Risk register, and lies on the northern side of parkland inspired by Humphry Repton and Capability Brown. Sadly it has suffered damage such as large holes cut in the perimeter fence and brickwork demolition on the walls of the ancient building. There are beer cans littering the ground within the Orangery, along with bonfire ashes and graffiti on the walls. This can be seen in the photographs below:

 

Tarmac are the custodians of this listed building. The Society has brought this damage to the attention of their Estates Manager Michael Charlton. In his reply he has assured us that: “We (Tarmac) have had approval from the East Herts Building Conservation Officer to install a new rigid mesh security fence and monitored security cameras. Installation should begin in October. In the meantime our ranger team are doing their best to keep the existing fence patched up. We are confident the new measures will prevent the trespass and we will put right any damage that has been caused”.

 

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Poster Booth Project Press Release

We are very pleased to announce that the refurbishment of the two remaining town centre poster booths is imminent, thanks to National Lottery Heritage funding which has now been secured. Below is a press release from the Society outlining the funding received, and our planned project. We will update you on future progress.
Don’t forget that you can read previous news about this and other matters in our newsletter archive HERE.

 

If you have any comments do contact us on wgcsociety@live.com

 

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspirelead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.

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