Local Plan: Bell Bar are ‘sacrificial lambs’ to preserve Brookmans Park
PUBLISHED: 07:28 23 June 2020
A residents association in Bell Bar is claiming that they are being used as “sacrificial lambs” so nearby village, Brookmans Park, has less development.
The Bell Lane Action Group (BLAG) has recently been founded to prevent 130 houses being built on a four-hectare site in Bell Bar as part of the draft Local Plan – which will treble the population of the small hamlet.
BLAG, led by Maurice Gammell, said the site was removed in 2016 as the area lacked infrastructure and utilities, swamped the rural settlement and has a natural pond, ancient hedgerows, protected trees and precious wildlife habitat, but said “it was then reintroduced in January 2020, as a sacrificial lamb for political diktat”.
Mr Gammell said: “We are actually very boring average people, but we are a silent majority who are fed up with being overlooked and overruled by the authorities, simply because we don’t cause enough of a fuss. We are fed up and we are not going to stand for it anymore.”
In response, borough councillor Stephen Boulton, who is ward councillor for the area and executive member for planning and environment, said: “The views of local people are very important to us and we do listen to them. That is why we consulted widely on our recent proposals to meet the borough’s housing shortfall.
“Our primary focus remains development on brownfield sites, but that only gets us so far. We will need to build on some green belt land in order to ensure that there is sufficient housing to meet existing needs, and those of future generations.
“Our challenge is to find the right sites for that growth, and why we sought the views of residents on potential options put forward by landowners or developers.
“We are carefully considering all responses received, including those from the residents of Bell Bar – which is part of the Brookmans Park and Little Heath ward – before any final decisions are made.”
The draft Local Plan, currently in Stage 8, still needs to be approved by the government planning inspector and discussions are ongoing to carry out hearing sessions virtually.
Under the council’s plan 14,011 homes have been earmarked at sites throughout Welwyn Hatfield. However this is below the assessed need of 16,000 – a key reason the inspector rejected the original draft plan – but the council believes the loss of the Green Belt will provide them with a mitigating issue.
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