Updated  21-May-07...............

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Newsletter February 2006.  Click here for a copy

John Prescott.  In the Cabinet shuffle on 5 May 2006 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister ceased to be responsible for planning.  Ruth Kelly is now the new Communities and Local Government minister.  Yvette Cooper is still the housing minister.

Adam Smith Institute – Land economy.  This paper was issued in April 2006 – see www.adamsmith.org.  It proposes the abolition of the planning process and Green Belts.  Instead there would be restrictive covenants and legal actions taken under nuisance laws.  The report has been condemned by the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) and the RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute).  The RTPI slammed the report saying that the marketised (sic) approach to planning in the 1980s did not work.  The planning system delivers a quality environment for the majority of people. If people had to resort to legal action, most people would be unable to afford to object to developments.  The CPRE said that more homes are being built because of the system criticized in the report.  ‘The way to re-green England is to repair damage done by intensive farming and regenerate blighted parts of towns’.    

See LGBC Notes June 2006 for greater detail.  

East of England Plan.

A sure indicator of the strength of local feelings was that we received over 650 responses to our September Newsletter from almost every road in North Mymms  (Brookmans Park, Welham Green, Bell Bar, and parts of Bullens Green and Little Heath). They were presented to Welwyn Hatfield Council on 10 November 2006.  Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps was in the delegation handing over these responses to Cllr Mandy Perkins.  Many added comments about the water shortage and the running down of the QE2 hospital just as the proposals are to add 10K homes to the borough.  One added comment you may like in particular says 'I am six years old.  I live in Welham Green because I can ride my bike in the green fields'.

 

The NM Green Belt Soc handover picture shows Cllr Mandy Perkins, committee member Mike Willis, secretary Bob Horrocks, Grant Shapps MP, President Gary Mabbutt, chairman Claire Taylor, and immediate past President Bob Wilson.  Bob Wilson had been our president since 1982 and a keen supporter of our activities.  He sold his house this summer and is still living locally for the time being.  He especially asked to be included in the delegation even though he has now stood down as our president.

 

Our new Gary Mabbutt is a resident of Brookmans Park.  This was his first participation in our activities since his appointment in October.  It is perhaps appropriate that both presidents were defenders by profession - Bob Wilson as goalkeeper for Arsenal and Scotland, and Gary Mabbutt  a defender for Spurs and England.  Now they are defending the Green Belt.   

 

 

Public meeting 2 October 2006.

This Society held a public meeting on Monday 2 October which was attended by about 95 local residents. Our chairman, Claire Taylor, introduced Hertfordshire County Councillor Bill Storey who explained how the overall planning system had changed in recent years, with individual county structure plans being replaced by regional plans such as the East of England Plan.  Cllr Storey then spoke about the region-wide problems of existing water shortages, the sewerage system for the county, jobs, and roads.

He noted that the East Coast Main Line could not handle any greater volume of trains unless the Digswell viaduct was widened, but previous proposals to do so had been abandoned and the necessary land disposed off.  Equally the railway line to Stansted would have problems in handling more traffic on that side of the county. Adding more carriages to trains would bring different problems.

Bob Horrocks, the Society’s secretary, then summarised the Inspectors reasons why Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield were ideal for expansion. These included job expansion caused by the university and planned health campus, plus the good transport links to London and Stevenage. The inspectors concluded that these were exceptional circumstances and justified building on the green belt.

The inspectors did add caveats about water, sewerage, transport, etc. and the funding of their provision.

The meeting concluded with a lively question time

Click here for a copy of the main points made by Bob Horrocks expanding on what was given in a handout to those attending the meeting.

The Enquiry in Public has been completed and the Report sent to Ruth Kelly MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government.

The Report is 250 pages long.  The worst recommendation for us is a recommendation to increase the number of homes in Welwyn Hatfield from 5,800 to 10,000 in the period 2001 to 2021.  Welwyn Hatfield Council have issued a News Item which says:

Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield have been targeted for new housing and employment development in the Panel report into the East of England Plan. If the recommendations in the report are accepted by the government this will mean substantial new development in the Green Belt in Welwyn Hatfield.

The independent panel’s report of the Examination in Public into the East of England Plan has just been published. It recommends that Welwyn Hatfield’s housing allocation from 2001 to 2021 should rise from 5,800 proposed in the draft plan to 10,000 dwellings and that Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield should become Key Centres for Development and Change. In addition it recommends the development of new employment sites within the borough. This will mean approximately 190 ha (470 acres) will need to be released from the Green Belt in Welwyn Hatfield alone – an area equivalent to the built-up area of the Hatfield Aerodrome site.  The Report also recommends that the Green Belt should be reviewed to meet strategic needs up to 2031.  If the same rate of growth in housing is applied up to 2031, we estimate that this could require a further 250 ha (620 acres) of Green Belt land to be released.
 
Councillor Mandy Perkins, Executive Member for Planning said: “I am very concerned about the implications of the increased scale of development recommended by the Panel for Welwyn Hatfield.  I am also alarmed that these proposals have emerged very late in the day, which means they have not been properly tested or subject to public scrutiny.”
 
Central Government is currently considering the Panel’s report and will put together a series of alterations to the East of England Plan known as the ‘Proposed Changes’, which are expected to be published in November. There will then be a period of public consultation at which time the Council and members of the public will have the opportunity to make representations.’

 

Actions, appeals and planning applications in 2006, in alphabetical order of street name

 

2006/283. 8 Bell Lane, Bell Bar.  Demolish feed store and erect new garage.  We have objected since the floor area of the feed store has already been incorporated into the stable conversion.  Although floor areas are not stated it will be a substantial increase in the floor area and inappropriate in the Green Belt. Permission refused 28.4.06.  An appeal has been lodged and we have added comments to the Planning Inspectorate.

 

2006/284.  Raybrook Farm, Bluebridge Road, Brookmans Park.  Demolish derelict building and add extension to second dwelling on site.  We have objected as being more than a 50% increase in floor area making it inappropriate in the Green Belt.  The derelict building is not habitable and should not be taken into account. Permission refused 2.5.06

 

2006/1144. Little Tollgate, Bullens Green Lane, Bullens Green.  Garage and workshop.  We objected on Green Belt grounds and the application was refused on 24 October 2006.

 

 

2006/243, White Lodge Farm, Bulls Lane, Bell Bar.  The application is to erect stables, hay store, tack room & form menage with paddock.  We have objected as inappropriate in the Green Belt and inconsistent with the existing approval for a fishing lake etc.  Permission refused 24.4.06

 

 

1-3 Georges Wood Road.  We objected to an application for 12 flats in 2005 but it was approved in September 2005.  A revised application was made late in 2005 which was refused by the Council’s Planning Committee on 16 Feb 2006.  One councillor said that if this proposal had been put before them last September it would have been refused permission.

 

2003/1623.  2 Georges Wood Rd.  Demolish and erect 6 flats.  At the appeal Hearing on 23 May the Deputy Chairman represented this Society and the Secretary represented the Parish Council.  Despite their efforts the appeal was upheld.  Costs were awarded against the Council mainly because the committee went against the recommendations of the officers.

 

2006/475.  2 Georges Wood Rd.  Demolish and erect 6 flats.  We have objected as cramped and a traffic hazard.  Approved by the council on 6 July 2006, reluctantly but the council’s hands were tied by the appeal decision.

 

 

High Dene, Great North Road, Welham Green.  Permission was refused for a 19m mobile phone mast in the rear garden, close to the railway line.  On 2 Feb 2006 an appeal was upheld and permission granted.  The Inspector said that evidence had been produced showing it was not possible to share the mast in Marshmoor Lane.

 

2006/311.  Marshmoor Cottage, Great North Rd, Welham Green  Demolish and erect a new dwelling.  We have objected as over-development in the Green Belt and no mention of the substantial workshop erected in the back garden. Permission refused 8.5.06

 

1`20/2004.  Rookery Cafe, Gt North Road.  15m high mobile phone mast.  This was refused and the appeal dismissed on Green Belt grounds.  The mast has finally been removed in November 2006.

2005/0625 Friday Grove, Hawkshead Road, Brookmans Park.  This second planning application was refused at the Welwyn Hatfield Council Planning Control Committee meeting on  6 April 2006.    Speaking against this application were our Deputy Chairman, Clive Bennett, Bob Horrocks on behalf of the North Mymms Parish Council, and two District Councillors, John Dean (Ward member for Brookmans Park & Little Heath) and John Mansfield.  Cllr Jill Weston spoke in favour of the application.  At the vote 9 were against and 4 in favour.  The Reasons for refusal were:

The site is within the Metropolitan Green Belt wherein permission will only be given for erection of new buildings or the use of existing buildings or land for agricultural, other essential purposes appropriate to a rural area or small scale facilities for participatory sport or recreation. The proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The built form of the proposed dwelling would have a strong visual presence and would result in an unacceptable loss of openness and harm to the rural character of surrounding Green Belt land and would represent encroachment into the countryside in a vulnerable location. No very special circumstances have been demonstrated of sufficient weight to set aside Green Belt policies of restraint.

An appeal has been lodged, just within the 6 months deadline, which will be decided at a Public Inquiry, to be held sometime in 2007.  We have written to the Planning Inspectorate setting out our responses to the Grounds for appeal, and said we may wish to speak at the Public Inquiry which will be held some time in 2007.  The CPRE-Herts Soc has also written to the Planning Inspectorate in response to the Grounds of Appeal.

2006/210 Tanum Farm, Hawkshead Rd  Little Heath, The proposal was to remove condition 1 of permission S6/1997/932/FP (personal permission) to enable business use of existing outbuilding.  We objected since the reasons offered did not seem sufficient to justify removal of this personal approval.  The application was withdrawn on 3.4.06.  A new application 2006/1185 has been made to change the use of the stables to offices.  We have objected on Green Belt grounds with no very special circumstances offered.

 

2006/1250.  5 Kentish Lane.  Front wall and gates.  We commented that there may not be enough room in front of the gates for a vehicle to stop while the gates open without blocking the highway.  Permission was refused on those grounds.

2006/0187 The Cottage, Marshmoor Lane, Welham Green.   The proposal was to demolish the derelict dwelling and erect a replacement one which would have been 70% greater in floor area.  We objected due to this large increase. The application was refused on 6.4.2006 as being an inappropriate development in the Green Belt with no very special circumstances offered.

 

2006/362.  Mymwood Cottage, Shepherds Way, Brookmans Park.  Various extensions.  We did not object but commented that it is not obvious if the original building has already been extended, and what increase in size there will be.    Permission was refused on 16.5.06 on green belt grounds.  We have subsequently advised the council that substantial building work is being carried out.

 

2006/780.  Well House, 2 Lysley Place, Shepherds Way  Brookmans Park.  Extensions and convert garage to habitable accommodation.  We have objected as over-extension in the Green Belt.  Refused on 31.7.06 on Green Belt grounds

 

2006/1015.  55 Station Rd, Welham Green  Extension and 1st floor extension.  We objected as overdevelopment adjoining the Green Belt.  It was withdrawn on 19 Sept. 2006. A new planning application ref 2006/1434 has been made for the demolition of the house and erection of a new one which would be similar to the withdrawn design.  We have objected on the same grounds.

 

2006/760.  172 Travellers Lane, Welham Green.  Removal of restriction on hours to allow 24-hour operation.  We objected as reduced amenity locally.  Application refused by the Council on 28.7.06 on the same grounds being close to Pooleys Lane houses.

 

The Old Kennels, Welham Manor, off Dixons Hill Road, Welham Green.  This site of about 1 acre was auctioned on 21 Feb 2006.The sales particulars quoted obsolete information giving a more favourable impression of development potential than is the case.  We notified the auctioneer and he then circulated a copy of the planning appeal report in 2005 dismissing an application for 9 houses on this site.  The particulars had quoted from a 2003 appeal which was also dismissed but was more favourable.  The bids failed to reach the reserve price and the land was subsequently sold.  We understand that the use is unlikely to change.

 

1360/2005.  Unit 3 Woodside Lane, Bell Bar.  Parking for up to 15 buses and coaches.   We objected on grounds of reduced amenity for neighbours.  Permission granted 31.7.06 but with restricted hours for starting and running engines, and no repairs etc to be done outside the building.  In October 2006 an application was made for a Goods Vehicle Licence to operate a goods vehicle from this site.  We wrote to the Traffic Commissioner pointing out that this would not seem to comply with planning restrictions on the site.  The application was withdrawn and the applicant has now sought a licence for premises in Welwyn Garden City.