Plans to build four new homes in the car park of a village pub near Welwyn Garden City have been approved following a council meeting.

At a meeting on Monday night, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council's Development Management Committee voted 8-2 in favour of pushing through the application, which will see homes built next to the Long Arm Short Arm pub in Lemsford.

The application, submitted by Griggs Homes, was called in by James Broach, Labour councillor for Hatfield Villages, who raised a number of concerns about the development.

Chief among them was the issue of natural lighting for the properties.

Cllr Broach told the meeting: "The gardens are quite small, smaller than what you would perhaps expect for a three-bedroom property.

"There’s a five-metre wall behind them which will block out most of the natural light."

He also had issues with access to the site, continuing: "Certainly, even as a non-driver, I wouldn’t want to reverse out onto the main road from plot one, where you have a sheer wall on your right-hand side, and you’ve got to try and reverse out onto a pedestrian area.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Cllr James Broach.Cllr James Broach. (Image: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council)

"It’s a very, very dangerous manoeuvre, and I’m not surprised to hear there have been concerns about it."

Despite the application by Griggs Home stating the the public house itself would remain untouched by the development and that it could be reopened at a later date, Cllr Broach believes otherwise.

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"When you remove the main car park from there, it really impacts how, as a businessman, you can open another premises on the site, if you have little to no parking for customers or staff," he said. 

"Although there is a much smaller space with a car park around the back, it is a tiny fraction in scale of what is there currently.

"In terms of when you are applying for a licence, if you haven’t got any space for customers or staff to park, licensing may take a dim view of that.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Matthew Green of Griggs Homes.Matthew Green of Griggs Homes. (Image: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council)

"I think we are risking one of the very few commercial units in this village."

Matthew Green, land director for Griggs Homes also spoke at the meeting, and mention that the former pub building would be maintained as commercial space.

"Following the approval of the application the parking area will be relocated to the western side of the public house, in a visually less dominant area of the site, insuring a proficient provision for future commercial use," he said.

He said the size of the houses had been reduced and access improved in revised plans, while continuing: "The scheme is an effective reuse of brownfield land, at a time when the green belt is coming under increased pressure for housing delivery.

"The proposed dwellings will provide new, high-quality family housing, of which there is an acute shortage in the borough.

"The proposal is well related to the adjoining buildings, complements the area, and is respectful to the history of the site."