Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel
Thursday 13th January 2022 7.30 pm

Venue: via Zoom

Contact: Jonah Anthony 

Media

Items
No. Item

36.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 December 2021 (previously circulated).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 16 December 2021 were approved as a correct record.

37.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS BY MEMBERS

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors S. Boulton and S. Thusu declared a non-pecuniary interest in items on the agenda as appropriate by virtue of being a Member of Hertfordshire County Council.

38.

PUBLIC QUESTION TIME AND PETITIONS

Up to thirty minutes will be made available for questions from members of the public on issues relating to the work of the Committee and to receive any petitions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Seven questions were received from the public. The Vice- Chair as Portfolio Holder of Environment. Planning, Estates and Development gave responses to all.

The following question was received from Welwyn Parish Council:

 

Welwyn Parish consists of three major settlements – Welwyn village, Digswell and Oaklands & Mardley Heath – that are deeply interconnected with each other, across their communities, resources and infrastructure.  Welwyn and Digswell have grown up over centuries within the confines of the surrounding landscape, and are hemmed in and divided by hillsides, river valleys, a motorway, and a built environment that goes back centuries.  Oaklands and Mardley Heath are essentially 20th Century but suffer from the total absence of any planned amenities such as village hall or even a children's play area - and there is now nowhere to place such.   These settlements sit at the edge of the borough boundary, and so they are also affected at first hand by developments in neighbouring boroughs such as North Herts, East Herts and Stevenage.

After a comprehensive programme of development in recent years, there are now no substantial brownfield sites left for new developments in or around these settlements.  As a result, all the sites that were put forward for inclusion in the Local Plan in 2019 were sited in the Green Belt.  However, in order to bolster their sustainability credentials, these sites needed to be added onto one of the existing settlements - settlements which have already undergone considerable expansion in recent years, or are already living with the consequences of expansion of nearby settlements such as Codicote and Knebworth, without any corresponding expansion of local amenities or infrastructure.  Based upon WHBC's own data, Welwyn village has consistently since 1995 been No 3 in the Borough for new developments after WGC and Hatfield - no mean feat for a village and indicative of its major growth over that period.  According to our analysis of published WHBC housing data over the last 10 years, housing stock across the whole borough grew by 10.1% in the period 2011-2021.  During that time, Hatfield’s housing stock grew by 11.8%, and Welwyn Garden City’s by 10.0%.  Brookmans Park, Little Heath, Welham Green and Cuffley grew, respectively, by 7.2%, 1.8%, 3.1% and 6.3%, whereas Welwyn Parish’s four settlements together expanded by 12.6% - with Welwyn Village itself growing by 22.7%.

The local schools at Welwyn, Oaklands and Digswell are full and their expansion would be extremely difficult and expensive - only Welwyn could be expanded due to land constraints and that would probably involve major demolition and rebuilding.  The road network grinds to a halt for the consequences of a broken sewage pipe in Welwyn Garden City, a carriageway closure on the motorway, or 500 new homes in Codicote; only the traffic reductions brought about by Covid have given any relief of late to the peak hour through traffic along Welwyn High Street.  The lone GP surgery has not managed to keep up with the growing population - witness the complaints and difficulty in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

LOCAL PLAN - ADDITIONAL SITES AND MODIFICATIONS TO THE PLAN pdf icon PDF 263 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report of the Head of Planning on the Local Plan – additional sites and modifications to the Plan. Members received a presentation which set out the background to the Local Plan including the key stages and consultation; Hearings Sessions; the content of the submitted plan the Development Strategy; and, the key reports and letters received from the Inspector.  The Inspector had advised that the Local Plan should make provision for 15,200 homes.  The Inspector had found that allocation totalling 8,557 dwellings to be either sound or could be found sound.   An additional 1,641 dwellings were required to be allocated from sites considered by the Inspector.  The presentation set out options to meet the housing need while meeting the Inspectors tests.

 

Recommendation 1:

 

Consider the results of the Site Selection Addendum and the Sustainability Appraisal Addendum and the merits and disadvantages of the different options.

 

Recommendation 2:

 

That Members accept the Officers recommendation set out in paragraph 4.30 of the report and recommend to Cabinet and Full Council Option D as set out in Appendix D to this report for submission to the examination along with the relevant supporting information.

 

Recommendation 3:

 

That Members recommend to Cabinet and Full Council that public consultation take place on Main Modifications to the Local Plan once the Inspector has confirmed the content of the Main Modifications required to make the Plan sound.

 

Members sought clarification on the inspector’s position on the number of dwellings proposed at the Symondshyde site.  Officers stated that the site does not need to be selected and more sustainable sites had to be selected first. Officers stated that the site had revised changes which could not change the funds allocated for infrastructure such as transport. Officers concluded that not the complete number of dwellings needed to be built in the Plan period, but the site would need the full amount to be deemed sustainable.

 

Members asked about infrastructure at the Symondshyde site. Officers stated that critical mass was examined to find what would be needed for school, shops and public transport provisions. As the site would be near North-West Hatfield and the two sites are owned by the same landowner, the site promoter would make a relationship between the sites. Officers stated the inspector was happy with the viability of public transport infrastructure.

 

Members expressed concerns over the inclusion of Symondshyde into the Plan. Members felt that the transport and sustainability was inadequate, highlighting that the bus service would not sufficient, the housing would be expensive therefore most homeowners would have cars which would increase stresses on the roads. Members felt it would be a blight on the greenbelt landscape.

 

Members stated that they could not support options A – D in the report as they included Symonshyde and other sites which were not sustainable. Members felt that Inspectors OAN number of 15 200 was too high. Members stated that the metrics to calculate the target were not as certain as before as growth had been stagnant and inward migration  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.