“My name is Maurice Gammell and I am addressing you on behalf of the Bell Lane Action Group – BLAG, which represents local residents who oppose the inclusion of site BrP1 in the Proposed Local Plan to be submitted to the inspector.
BLAG has continually made representations to the Council officers not to include the agricultural and green belt site opposite Bell Lane, known as BrP1, because it believes it to be to totally unsustainable for the following reasons:
1. It is agricultural land and is an integral part of the “openness” between Brookmans Park and Bell Bar.
2. Bell Bar is a small hamlet with a history of many centuries and is a totally separate entity from the village of Brookman’s Park, which was built around 1930. The two are not interconnected by any network of roads.
3. A housing development on that site, of the size and magnitude considered, would coalesce those two disparate settlements.
4. It would create a negative impact on the local character and distinctiveness of Bell Lane which supports several Grade II listed properties.
5. Bell Lane is a narrow country lane, used by walkers, joggers, cyclists and horse riders. The charm and tranquillity of this lane would be destroyed and lost forever if this development takes place.
6. There are only 39 houses along Bell Lane. To add a further 104 dwellings would treble the housing density, which is a gross and disproportionate expansion of a small rural community
7. The current infrastructure would not cope with the additional housing.
8. The 200 extra cars which would arise out of this proposed housing development would have to emerge onto A1000, causing massive congestion on this already busy arterial road. Air and noise pollution would also increase substantially.
9. The site is far from any train stations, shops, schools, or health centres, all of which are over half an hour’s walk from it. It is not served by any regular form of public transport.
10. A development without local facilities and amenities is a crime generator.
11. Changing the boundaries of the Green Belt, as suggested, in order to accommodate this development would allow excessive, and cumulative scale of growth of the existing houses.
Welwyn and Hatfield Council had originally considered introducing BrP1 in the Local Plan but correctly rejected it on many grounds.
However, in its search to meet an illusory OAN (which we vehemently dispute), it commissioned LUC to produce a report in 2019 to determine which greenfield sites could be “sacrificed”. This was based on whether the loss of a site was “Moderately Harmful” or “Moderately to High”.
LUC changed the status of BrP1 from “Moderate to High” to “Moderate”, thus allowing the Council to introduce it again in their latest iteration of the Plan.
The LUC report was a very poorly researched and inaccurate paper. It was clear that its author had never visited the site or the area – hence the inadequate reporting and incorrect assumptions. The report suggested distances to shops and railway stations which were totally incorrect, evidence of transport links that were not available, the existence of amenities that were not there. BLAG strongly disputed these findings and contested this spurious and erroneous information. But those were ignored by the Council in its search to make up the numbers. There were many more sustainable sites than BrP1 that the CPPP could have included (and which had been favoured by the Inspector) such as HS22 and BrP4 to name but a few, but they were dismissed.
So, before you make a decision which will have a major, grave, and long-term impact on the residents of a small hamlet. Could you please explain:
Why did the representations of 60 people who opposed the inclusion of BrP1 in the Plan, and the veracity of the misrepresented facts in the LUC report, not checked sufficiently, reviewed, and addressed?”
The question was answered by Councillor S.Boulton (Executive Member, Environment and Planning) :-
“The detailed points and issues raised by respondents have all been reviewed by officers. A summary of the key issues and a proposed response is set out in Appendix and B of the CPPP report. The Green Belt Review produced by LUC was commissioned in 2018 on the instructions of the Inspector and has already been considered at a hearing session in November 2018. This version was updated on the instructions of the Inspector to address consistency issues raised by objectors and was published in 2019. The harm rating of Parcel 72 within which BrP1 falls did not change as a consequence. The Inspector has concluded that the LUC evidence along with the two other Green Belt studies is a useful starting point when assessing the harm to the Green Belt that would result if a site is released.
Comments on the Sustainability Appraisal were considered carefully, including those relating to access to education and public transport. The information and score for public transport access was updated to reflect those comments. The County Council as Highway Authority do not consider that there would be a severe impact on the Highway Network if this site were to come forward.”