Campaigners fighting to protect Welwyn Garden City have raised concerns that Labour's new planning policies could lead to poorly designed developments in the town.

On Monday (July 8), chancellor Rachel Reeves announced changes to how planning would work under the new Labour government.

Key among those policies is that decisions on major infrastructure projects will now be made nationally rather than locally, as part of efforts to stop important projects being tied up in years of red tape.

Green Belt boundaries will also be reviewed to prioritise brownfield and so-called 'grey belt' land, such as disused car parks or areas of wasteland in the Green Belt.

The new policies have caused concern among campaigners from Together for WGC, a group which aims to maintain the garden city principles of founder Ebenezer Howard.

Chancellor Rachel Reeves.Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

"As with any changes to planning policy, the devil is in the detail and how they will apply to the National Planning Policy Framework that local planning authorities have to adhere to," said trustee Kate Cowan.

"Welwyn Garden City has experienced the negative impacts of poor design in past developer applications. The government should therefore increase it's focus on quality of design and build, local consideration of place, open space, with additional enforcement powers for councils.

"We also wish to see Historic England's powers beefed up, to ensure the protection of listed buildings and landscapes."

There was some praise for the new policies, with Kate continuing: "We welcome Monday's announcement supporting infrastructure to support housing, as was promoted and delivered by Howard. This has been missing from many government plans in the past.

"We are pleased to see the inclusion of social and affordable housing, however developers have increasingly told us that it is not financially viable, so this is a concern."