Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel - Thursday 17th August 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item



To note any substitution of Panel Members in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.

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The following substitution of Members had been made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules:

Cllr Jill Weston for Cllr Rose Grewal.




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Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Rose Grewal.




To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2023 (previously circulated).

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The minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2023 were approved as a correct record.




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There were no items of urgent business.




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


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Cllr Kingsbury declared a non-pecuniary interest as a Hertfordshire County Councillor. He also advised he had been part of the Cabinet that had agreed the Active Travel strategy (item 11 on the agenda) go out to consultation; this was a non-pecuniary interest.


Cllr Weston declared a non-pecuniary interest as she had been on the BGS steering group.


Cllrs Thusu and Zukowskyj declared a non-pecuniary interest as Hertfordshire County Councillors.




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.

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The question set out below was received from a member of the public.


“My name is Howard Dawson. I am a resident of Welham Green. I am also a Chartered Surveyor and a Regulation 19 party at the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Examination.


The Liberal Democrats and the Labour Members of this Council have been staunch opponents against the allocation of High Harm housing sites in the Green Belt. Equally, the Conservatives, despite being the party which originally advanced the three High Harm sites for allocation in the Local Plan, have also committed themselves unequivocally to the removal of High Harm sites from the Local Plan. In a letter written by the Cabinet of this Council to the Prime Minister on 21 September 2022, it stated;


“A key point for us was that this allocation removed three sites classed as ‘high harm’ to the Green Belt, following a review instigated by the Inspector.”


Two of the three High Harm sites are in Cuffley where, Mr Jonathan Shack, a resident in that village has recently mounted a successful Judicial Review against this Council for trying to grant planning permission for 14 dwellings on one of those High Harm sites. Well done Mr Shack. The third of the High Harm sites is in the Welham Green Ward. It is known as BrP4 (HS22).


In January 2020, the full Council resolved unequivocally to remove all three High Harm sites from the Local Plan. This received cross-party support without any dissention.


At the full Council meeting in January 2020, the now Leader of the Council, Paul Zukowskyj, made crystal clear that the Liberal Democrats would not, under any circumstances, support the allocation of High Harm Green Belt sites in the Local Plan. Now is the opportunity to fulfil that promise.


The Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition is now in a position to deliver its direct promises to the communities of Cuffley, Welham Green and Water End. The three High Harm Green Belt sites must be deleted from the draft Local Plan.


The Labour and Liberal Democrats members must now take ownership of the Local Plan. You cannot duck that responsibility and then hope to blame the Conservatives for their past mistakes. The Conservatives have made clear that High Harm sites in the Green Belt must be deleted from the Local Plan. Their letter to the Prime Minister in September 2022 was unequivocal;


“We have made a decision to remove these sites and we will not reverse that decision.”


There are solid lawful grounds to delete the High Harm sites from the Local Plan. In fact, the Council has itself identified suitable housing sites for over 1,000 dwellings on sites that were found to be Moderate or Moderate-High Harm, none of which have been allocated. The Inspector has made clear that he would be willing to see those sites of less harm to the Green Belt allocated, which the Council should now present to him as an alternative to the High Harm sites.


With  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.



Report of the Assistant Director (Planning)


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The Panel received the report of the Assistant Director (Planning) and a presentation on the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) Guidance Note.


Members raised a number of issues which are summarised below:

·       Reservations were expressed about the recommendation that delegated powers be given to the Assistant Director (Planning) in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning to update the Guidance Note as required; it was felt that if there was substantial material change to the guidance then it should be considered by CPPP or another panel. An amendment to the second recommendation was proposed so it would read: ‘That Cabinet gives delegated powers to the Assistant Director (Planning) in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning, to update the Guidance Note as required with a further report detailing subsequent changes to come back to CPPP before 1 March 2024.’

·       A Member suggested that the need for materiality needed to be balanced with giving officers sufficient delegation to progress matters and therefore it was proposed that a decision be deferred to the next meeting when the exact wording was known, so a more robust discussion could take place. Officers commented that the document would be ‘live’ for a while and so it would be appropriate for substantive changes to be considered at a future meeting, while day to day changes of wording as information was updated by government could be managed under delegated authority. The Member still recommended the item should be deferred.  

·       A Member commented on the requirement that BNG should be maintained for a minimum of 30 years, noted the 10% net gain was small given the biodiversity crisis, and asked whether these could be amended. Officers advised both the 30 years and 10% net gain were specified in the Environment Act and so could not be changed. In response to a further query, officers explained more than 10% could only be required if it could be evidenced through the Local Plan.

·       Officers noted the BNG requirement for major sites took effect from November 2023 and proposed that if the guidance was adopted at the meeting, a further report could come to Committee then. In the meantime it was beneficial to have the current guidance in the public domain as requirements would be clear to developers.

·       Members asked about the relationship between the guidance and the draft Local Plan. Officers advised that if the Local Plan was adopted before the guidance took effect, all applications had to be determined in accordance with the development plan, so 10% BNG would be required if the Local Plan was adopted.

·       In response to a query about monitoring and enforcement, officers explained that responsibility lay with the developer who would have to submit a habitat management and monitoring plan; failure to do so would trigger an alert with the Council. BNG monitoring and enforcement had substantial resource implications for all local authorities. 

·       Responding to a question, officers advised that Development Management Committee would start to see applications including a BNG plan.



(unanimous)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.



Report of the Assistant Director (Planning)


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The Panel received the report of the Assistant Director (Planning).


St Albans District and City Council (SADC) was in the process of producing its new Local Plan. Once adopted, the new Local Plan would guide the future spatial development over a 15-year period from 2024 to 2041. The consultation period will end on 25 September 2023. The draft Plan identified a preferred level of growth and set out a preferred spatial strategy and policies for accommodating that growth. A local housing need figure of 888 dwellings per annum had been calculated, based on the Government’s Standard Method, which equated to a minimum of just over 15,000 homes up to 2041. However the draft Plan stated there might be significant changes in the government’s evidence and approach to housing need between this consultation and the next iteration of the Plan to be consulted on in 2024.


In terms of spatial strategy, 81% of SADC is designated Green Belt land, and there is insufficient land available to meet housing need without releasing land from the Green Belt.


The spatial strategy gave priority to the development of larger urban centres which can provide a greater range of services and facilities, and supported the re-use of land within the urban areas, which could reduce the need to travel. The spatial strategy resulted in most site allocations being within and adjacent to the larger and most sustainable urban centres, specifically St Albans and the edge of Hemel Hempstead, but also development in Harpenden and London Colney. A series of Broad Locations for development were identified in the Plan; the most significant were the four comprising Hemel Garden Communities, which were planned to the east and north of Hemel Hempstead on Green Belt land and would provide a large contribution to meeting the district’s growth requirements. Other Broad Locations were north of St Albans, west of St Albans, west of London Colney, North East Harpenden, North West Harpenden, West Redbourn, Glinwell Nursery in St Albans, and Harper Lane near Radlett.


The site with the strongest locational relationship to Welwyn Hatfield was Glinwell. It was identified as a Broad Location for growth, with a site area of approximately 20 hectares, potentially providing a mixed-used development of 436 dwellings, a possible primary school, green infrastructure, transport infrastructure and other community infrastructure. The site was currently in use as a nursery with glasshouses, together with a farm shop and associated car parking. As such, the site was identified as Previously Developed Land.


A draft consultation response was attached to the report at Appendix A. The key issues were the potential impact on the purposes of the Green Belt and the need for development to be supported by infrastructure. The Welwyn Hatfield Green Belt Review noted that the gap between St Albans and Hatfield was narrow to the west of Hatfield. The gap was considered to be fragile as the site was just under 1km away from the nearest point to the boundary with Welwyn Hatfield, and there were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.



Report of the Assistant Director (Planning)


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The Panel received the report of the Assistant Director (Planning).


Several sites in the Welwyn Hatfield were required to be master-planned. Masterplans sought to provide a long-term strategy and framework that responded to needs and issues affecting an area, providing a clear steer on priorities and principles for new neighbourhoods and setting parameters for design proposals that could inform more detailed masterplans and planning applications. They were a material planning consideration in planning decisions relating to the particular sites for which they were prepared and were a reference tool and steer for the preparation of planning applications and design codes. They sought to ensure development did not take place in isolation and provided a vision for the overall development of a site.


Birchall Garden Suburb was a large strategic site to the southwest of Welwyn Garden City, straddling the boundary between Welwyn Hatfield and East Hertfordshire. The area within East Hertfordshire was removed from the Green Belt and allocated for development in the East Hertfordshire District Plan (adopted in 2018). The area within Welwyn Hatfield was proposed in the draft Local Plan for partial removal from the Green Belt and allocation for development; unlike the land in East Hertfordshire, some parts of the development within Welwyn Hatfield would remain in the Green Belt. All land in Welwyn Hatfield remained Green Belt until the adoption of the draft Local Plan.

The Welwyn Hatfield Draft Local Plan and adopted East Hertfordshire District Plan 2018 shared the same policy requirement for the production of a jointly prepared strategic masterplan document for Birchall Garden Suburb. The policy requirement was for 1950 homes to be delivered over the plan period: 600 in Welwyn Hatfield Borough and 1,350 in East Hertfordshire District which would be planned comprehensively to create a new community incorporating Garden City principles. The identified 600 homes in Welwyn Hatfield was a reduction from the 1,200 proposed in the submitted Draft Local Plan (2016) as, through the Examination of the Draft Local Plan, the Inspector concluded that development on the area by the A414 would be unsound.


The policies for both Plans stated that a joint masterplan should be prepared setting out the quantum and distribution of land uses, access and sustainable transport measures, sustainable design and layout principles, the approach to character areas and site density, treatment of ecological and heritage assets including key views, the approach to land remediation, locations of Gypsy and Traveller sites, and phasing and delivery of infrastructure, mineral extraction and built development.


The masterplan for Birchall Garden Suburb was included at Appendix A of the report and had been produced by consultants Allies and Morrison who were jointly commissioned by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC) and East Herts District Council (EHDC). The consultant team had worked closely with officers from both authorities, Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) and a number of other statutory and community stakeholders. A series of technical workshops had been held and a project steering group established which helped shape development of the masterplan. Design  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.



Report of the Assistant Director (Planning)


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The Panel received the report of the Assistant Director for Planning.


The report set out the proposed response to Hertfordshire County Council’s Active Travel Strategy. Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council worked with Hertfordshire County Council to produce a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) which was considered by the Climate Change Sub Group in January 2023. Further to this, the County Council had undertaken significant works in Welwyn Garden City town centre in recent years to improve active travel provision.


Concerns were raised about whether the Council’s recommendations had been approved by Development Management Committee, and that the consultation could have included a larger amount of Welwyn Hatfield residents. Officers confirmed that the County Council was the body which produced the Strategy and asked the Panel to consider the Strategy rather than the consultation process.


It was felt that there was a need for an Integrated Transport Strategy to support people getting out of their cars and reducing carbon emissions. Several bus routes had been reduced or stopped recently which stopped people using buses. There was a need for better street lighting to encourage residents to use public transport after dark.


It was agreed that it was important to include high quality design for any infrastructure which would be in line with the borough.


It was agreed that additional comments would be added to reflect the need for improved and maintained street lighting; more focus on bus availability, including evenings and weekends; question where the source evidence was to support the statistics around retail spend; consider implication of the emerging trends for e-scooters and e-bikes; require that active travel interventions demonstrated high quality design and took account of meaningful consultation in the local area where they are proposed - they should also consider safety and longevity of the design; and to amend paragraph 4 of the letter to remove the specific references to the schemes in Welwyn Garden City.



That authority be delegated to the Assistant Director (Planning) in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning to respond to the Hertfordshire Active Travel Strategy Consultation.