Agenda item

Statement by the Head of Planning


“The Submitted Plan has already selected what were considered at that time to be the most sustainable urban and green belt sites.  As a principle Conservative councillors think we should continue to favour those sites, unless there is valid new evidence that should change our judgement on those sites.


To their mind the Stage 3 Green Belt Study is valid new evidence, as it finds that a number of submitted sites are ‘high’ harm.  This is an unacceptable level of harm to the green belt and those sites should therefore be removed. 


This results in the removal of HS22 to the west of Brookmans Park, HS25 to the west of Little Heath and HS29 and HS30 to the south of Cuffley.


Conservative councillors are also worried about sites that are ‘moderate-high’ harm. 


They don’t think it is appropriate to remove any submitted sites that are ‘moderate-high’ harm, as this would result in too much change to the Submitted Plan.


This means that HS15 in Woolmer Green, three sites in Welwyn, Birchall Garden Suburb, HS2 to the south of Welwyn Garden City, HAT1, HAT15 Symondshyde, HS11 to the south of Hatfield, SDS7 at Marshmoor, HS24 in Little Heath and HS28 in Cuffley remain in the plan.


They do think it is right however not to select any new ‘moderate-high’ harm sites.  This has the consequence of removing homes from the new sites proposed by officers, including in Welwyn, Welham Green, Brookmans Park and Cuffley.


The two exceptions to this principle are WGC4a and HAT1.


In respect of WGC4a Panshanger, which is a ‘moderate-high’ harm site, they think it is right to observe the inspector’s thoughts that land to the north is not suitable for a new grass runway and should deliver as much housing as reasonably possible.  They favour a total of 815 homes across the whole north/south site (650 + 75 + 90).  The allocation should however emphasise the importance of lower densities and open space to the north.


In respect of HAT1 which is a ‘moderate’, ‘moderate-high’ and ‘high’ harm site, they regard the opportunity for a comprehensive development including new primary and secondary schools, shops, community facilities, open spaces and public transport improvements to outweigh the high level of harm to the green belt in the northern part.  They also note that the school playing fields would stay in the green belt and create separation from Stanborough. 


Conservative councillors are also very concerned about sites that cause coalescence between existing settlements, particularly between some of our characterful villages.


They recognise that some of these sites would be removed by virtue of not selecting any new ‘moderate-high’ harm sites, but also believe it is right to remove ‘moderate’ harm sites that cause coalescence. 


This results in the removal of WGr3 in Knebworth, WeG12 to the north of Welham Green and WeG6 to the south of Welham Green.


As a result of all of the above, there would be no need to select WeG17 to the west of Welham Green for a new primary school.  It is a ‘high’ harm site and sufficient provision could instead be achieved by expanding Brookmans Park primary school by 0.5 forms of entry.


Conservative councillors are also concerned about development in small washed-over villages with very few services, notably Lemsford and Stanborough, and therefore propose to remove sites from these villages.


This results in the removal of StL13, StL1, StL15 and StL17.


Councillors recognise that the Council has agreed a Sports Strategy which proposes that a masterplan be prepared for Gosling sports park in order to consider the future of sporting provision and the opportunity for new homes.  They therefore propose the capacity of this site be reduced from 250 to 100 homes, until the masterplan has been prepared and a more informed target has been identified.


They do not want to make any increased assumptions for the Wheat Quarter site at the moment, but recognise that it might be possible to select a higher target after the public consultation period if pre-application discussions identify an acceptable scheme.


They would like to re-consult on the opportunity for about 160 homes at PB1 to the east of Potters Bar, by asking officers to work with Herts Highways to explore access solutions that continue to protect the local wildlife sites.  This is because the site adjoins a sustainable town with higher-order services.


As the councillor noted, all of the above results in a target of 14,206 homes. 


It is the substantial addition of 2,206 homes over the Submitted Plan.