Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Housing and Planning Panel - Thursday 1st December 2016 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Campus East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE. View directions

Contact: Gurdip Paddan 

No. Item



To note any substitution of Members made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22.




The following substitutions of Panel Members has been made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22.


Councillor J Cragg for D Bennett.

Councillor A Chesterman for G Hayes

Councillor N Chapman for S Johnston






To note apologies.




Apologies for absence was received from Councillors D Bennett, G Hayes and

S Johnston.





To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 3 November 2016 (previously circulated).




The Minutes of the meeting held on 3 November 2016 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.






Members were advised that St Albans District Council had been notified by the Planning Inspector that they have not met the ‘Duty to Co-operate’ in their Statement of Compliance, Strategic Local Plan. It was noted that public bodies have a duty to co-operate on planning issues, particularly those relating to strategic priorities; for example in delivery of homes, jobs and provision of infrastructure.  St Albans District Council has been recommended to undertake an assessment of cross-boundary matters and priorities with nearby Local Planning Authorities and the County Council to ensure that it meets the requirements of the Duty to Co-operate.





To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on the Agenda.




Councillor Cowan declared non-pecuniary interest in items on the Agenda as appropriate by virtue of being a Member of Hertfordshire County Council.





The report of the Executive Director provided Members with information about the Council’s draft response to the ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and residential property licensing reforms’ consultation paper which was published by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in October 2016.



Additional documents:


Reportofthe ExecutiveDirector provided Members with information about the Council’s draft response to the ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and residential property licensing reforms’ consultation paper which was published by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in October 2016.


At present only HMOs that comprise three or more storeys and have five or more occupants were legally required to be licensed.  However the government had made the decision to extend the scope of licensing and they published a consultation document inviting comments on how they should implement the changes and the possible implications.  The closing date for a response is 13 December 2016.  The consultation asked 32 questions and the Council’s draft response was given in Appendix A attached to the report.


Officers explained that the government also planned to extend the scope of mandatory licensing to flats above and below business premises e.g. flats above shops on traditional high street type locations. 


The Council already has in place procedures for investigating HMOs where it was believed they may require a licence but where a licence application had not been received. 


Members of the Panel, with the consent of the Chairman asked, questions and commented on the report during which the following points were made:-


·         Minimum sleeping room size 6.52 sq.m – currently WHBC room size exceeded this proposed size, where there was not a communal room.

·         The new scheme would significantly increase the number of HMOs that required a licence within the Borough.  The current number of licensed properties was 360 and a recent survey had confirmed that the total number of HMOs was around 2,400.

·         There were resourcing implications to process the applications and inspect the properties.  The resource required could be offset by the license fees.

·         There was the need to be proactive in identifying and pursuing owners of licensable HMOs that have not applied for a license.

·         Additional HMOs requiring a licence was estimated to be between 1k and 1.5k.

·         Licensed properties require an inspection within the five year licensing period.  Extra resource would be required to manage the additional work.

·         The licence fee was payable when the application was made but the inspection may not be carried out until a later financial year – reflection of costs of administering the scheme over the five year fee period.

·         Clarification was sought in relation to question numbers 2 and 11. With regards to question number 30 – response to be amended to state ‘no’.

·         Licenses are not to be transferable.

·         HMO Licence fee structure, as detail in Appendix B.




(1)  That the draft response, as attached to the report as Appendix A, be approved subject to amendments as agreed by Members.


(2)  That Head of Housing and Community be given delegated authority to agree the final response to the consultation with the Executive Member for Planning.




The report of the Executive Director sought Members’ approval for the areas of support and concern for the proposals in Hertfordshire County Council’s Transport Vision 2050 and an indication of any further issues that Members wished to see included in this Council’s response.



Additional documents:


Reportofthe ExecutiveDirector provided an update on the development of a new local transport plan for Hertfordshire and its progress through a number of stages since work commenced in 2014. 


Hertfordshire County Council was carrying out a consultation on its draft Transport Vision 2050 document, in advance of preparing its full strategy for the new Hertfordshire Local Transport Plan (LTP4) during 2017.  The consultation period started in September 2016 and will close on 14 December 2016.


The consultation marked the end of Stage 3 of the development of the new Local Transport Plan (LTP).  At this stage the County Council was consulting on some of the possible content of the full LTP strategy, which included some new policy options and major schemes.  Following this consultation the development of the new plan would enter its final stage, where a full draft LTP and updated set of transport policies would be produced and be subjected to a final round of consultation before adoption by the County Council.


The report noted that the consultation also took account of committed and likely transport system improvements, including some with a direct impact on Welwyn Hatfield such as the ‘smart motorway’ proposed between junctions 6 and 8 of the A1(M).  Other factors considered included air quality, the potential for improving public health, demographic factors, changes in technology and political or legislative priorities.  The consultation document was in two main parts, the first dealing with transport policy options and the second with suggested major schemes.


During discussion Officers responded to the issues and concerns raised by Members in respect of the responses to the consultation, which are set out below:-


·         The need for short term and long term strategies, as some proposals had taken too long to implement.  Timescales of these projects together with funding was considered.

·         Improving services to and through St Albans – traffic movement; rapid bus service may be difficult.

·         The need to invest in more sustainable modes of transport.  Walking and cycling for short journeys but long distance, there was a need for a better connectivity between towns and cities.

·         Policy options in particular – cycling in larger urbans areas. Support for shared mobility including car clubs, bike hire and car pooling. Public transport connectivity between towns through bus priority measures. With new technology in the next 15-20 years the County Council had identified the need to continue to upgrade the County’s roads.  Growth and Transport Plans would form part of the new LTP.  The plan for South West Hertfordshire was underway and was expected to be delivered first with other areas of the county to follow.  A plan for A1(M) corridor including routes through Welwyn Hatfield.

·         Access improvements to East Hemel Hempstead, Hertford Bypass and traffic congestion on A414 through Hertford.

·         Junction upgrades – potential schemes/projects along the A414 north of Harlow, at Hertford, Hatfield, Colney Heath and Park Street.

·         Noted that Olding’s East had been provisionally identified involving an extra westbound lane on the A414 approach to the junction.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.



Additional documents:


Reportofthe ExecutiveDirector on the Govia Thameslink Rail’s consultation was considered in respect of the revisions to railway timetables from May 2018, which would include changes to services serving stations in Welwyn Hatfield, including the integration of most fast services into the Thameslink network providing direct trains to central London and beyond.


An important change to the proposed service pattern was that all fast trains serving Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield would run towards or away from Cambridge.  It would no longer be possible to get direct trains to stations from Arlesey to Peterborough but it would be possible to change at Stevenage or Hitchin.


The Council’s comments on the consultation and points raised at the meeting included:


·         Supporting the improvement in the range of destinations served by fast trains. Members raised concern in respect of the reduction in the number of seats in the trains being phased in for the new services. 

·         Objections were raised to the lack of improvements listed for fast services and Members suggested that more services should call at Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield. 

·         Strong objections and dissatisfaction were raised to the proposed reduction in the frequency of services calling at Welham Green and Brookmans Park stations.  As severe cuts in the service would have a detrimental effect on commuters.

·         The possibility of rail replacement buses until further notice from Stevenage to both Hertford North and Watton-at-Stone.

·         Fast trains serving Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield will run through St Pancras and London Bridge to Maidstone East, with a peak time service to Sevenoaks.  It was noted that faster Thameslink services not proposed to call at stations in Welwyn Hatfield are proposed to call at Gatwick Airport. New rolling stock would serve services to and from Moorgate calling at Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Welham Green and Brookmans Park on the East Coast Main Line and Cuffley on the Hertford loop.

·         The new trains on fast services would have 30% fewer seats and more standing area.  Concern was raised that with an ageing population it would be practical to have more seats than standing area.

·         The current peak train services were already at the maximum length that could be accommodated at platforms at Welwyn Hatfield’s stations so it would not be possible to introduce longer trains to mitigate this problem.

·         The safety aspect of train journeys was considered in terms of standing during an incident and large rucksacks and cases on board during peak periods.

·         It was proposed that the Welwyn North service be maintained.

·         The proposed service patterns were considered which directly affect Hertfordshire.  It was noted that there would be no direct services from Hatfield Welwyn Garden City and Welwyn North to Peterborough.  Instead, all northbound fast trains would terminate at Cambridge, would be inconvenient for people needing to make connections with long distance trains to the north of England and Scotland from Peterborough, as they would additionally have to change trains at Stevenage. It was agreed that Peterborough  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.




Reportofthe ExecutiveDirector advised that East Hertfordshire District Council was carrying out Regulation 19 consultation on its Local Plan, known as the East Herts Pre-Submission District Plan (EHDP). This was the stage of plan consultation that this Council had recently carried out with the Welwyn Hatfield Draft Local Plan Proposed Submission, which closed on 24 October 2016. East Herts’ plan was a comprehensive single plan and included a development strategy for the period to 2033, making provision for new dwellings, employment and retained floorspace and urban extensions.


East Herts previously carried out a consultation on its preferred options early in 2014 for its Local Plan.  This included the identification of a broad location for growth described as East of Welwyn Garden City which formed part of a larger site together with land within Welwyn Hatfield.  The current consultation runs for six weeks and closes on 15 December 2016.


The report noted that the Council had made a number of comments to East Hertfordshire District Council (EHDP) covering a number of issues.  Since that time there had been a number of Duty to Co-operate meetings on cross boundary issues. East Herts Council had highlighted that they would carry out an early review of the Plan in light of the new household projections.


It was envisaged that a mixed use residential-led development would accommodate 1,200 homes in Welwyn Hetfield and 1,350 in East Herts.  East Herts Council and this Council had agreed the wording for a policy on Birchall Garden Suburb which appeared in both the Welwyn Hatfield Draft Local Plan Proposed Submission and the East Herts Council Pre-Submission District Plan Consultation.  This demonstrated a good example of local authorities engaging constructively to maximise the effectiveness of Local Plan preparation; in line with the duty to co-operate as set out in the Localism Act 2011.


Members supported the Council’s comments on the Development Strategy and the approach to the development of Birchall Garden Suburb, education, wastewater treatment and infrastructure delivery.


Councillor Cowan requested that it be minuted that he was still opposed to the allocation of Birchall Garden Suburb in the respective Local Plans.




(1)  The Panel approves the comments as set out in the report for inclusion in this Council’s response to the East Herts District Plan consultation;


(2)  That the Head of Planning be given delegated authority to agree the final response to the consultation with the Executive Member for Planning.








Additional documents:


Reportofthe ExecutiveDirector asked Members to note the areas of support and concern for the North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) Proposed Submission Local Plan, as set out within the report at Appendix A. Much like the Local Plan being prepared by this Council, the NHDC plan was a comprehensive single plan.  It combined strategic policies, development management policies and site allocations for various uses and various designations for certain areas.  It covered a 20 year plan period from 2011 to 2031.


NHDC previously carried out consultation in early 2015, with a document that set out the main issues which would be dealt with in the new NHDC plan and the various options NHDC was considering.  There were still a number of strategic issues of particular significance to Welwyn Hatfield and which may have a ‘Duty to Cooperate’ implication – these were set out within the report.


The consultation ran for six weeks.  Due to the timing of the deadline (30 November 2016) in relation to the meeting of this Panel (1 December 2016), the response as set out in the Appendix to this plus an additional response relating to Gypsy and Traveller provision was agreed with the Executive Member for Planning as the  response sent to NHDC. 


The Council’s response was generally supportive of the consultation document but also raised a number of matters in response to the Proposed Submission Local Plan 2016 consultation including: a request that NHDC’s early review of its Local Plan consider the potential to meet some of Welwyn Hatfield’s identified and longer term housing needs; given changing economic forecasts there was a need to jointly monitor the situation; setting out this Council’s willingness to jointly work with NHDC on any future assessment of infrastructure needs and provision.

During discussion on the proposed submission version of their Local Plan, Officers responded to the issues and concerns raised by Members which included the additional 1,950 homes on land in and around Cockernhoe as a contribution towards Luton’s unmet housing needs and land west of the A1(M) at Stevenage had been safeguarded for up to 3,100 dwellings in the period beyond 2016 to help meet future unmet housing needs arising in Stevenage.


The housing target had been made possible by releasing Green Belt around Baldock, Hitchin, Letchworth Garden City and a number larger villages including Codicote and Knebworth.  About 8,000 dwelling would be delivered strategic around development sites being released from the Green Belt.


The Panel received addition information relating to an additional response to SP8, HS7 in respect of Gypsy and Traveller pitches at the Pulmore Water site (CD4) which would meet the needs of the community,. The site adjoining the existing Gypsy and Traveller site at Pulmore Water had been identified for an additional seven pitches which would take the level of provision on the site to over the recommended 15 pitch threshold and the response referred to a recent application received by NHDC for a small Gypsy and Traveller site nearby.  




(1)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.