'Welwyn will no longer have the right to call itself a garden city' - warning over development plans for Broadwater Road

A CGI visualisation of the proposals for BioPark. Picture: HG Group

A CGI visualisation of the proposals for BioPark - Credit: HG Group

A community campaign has been launched to prevent Welwyn Garden City from being in "terrible danger of becoming a London suburb".

A proposal for 289 homes to be built in blocks of up to nine storeys high on the old BioPark site on Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City, may be approved  at the council's Development Management Committee meeting on Thursday, August 12.

Local groups are encouraging residents to let council know their thoughts as soon as possible, as they believe if a nine storey block of flats is approved here then the other two nearby applications at the former Shredded Wheat Factory and South Side of the Shredded Wheat Factory will also receive the green light.

Diane Hagger, a member of campaign group Keep the G in WGC, passionately told this paper of her concerns about the BioPark application.

Biopark, Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City. Picture: DANNY LOO

Biopark, Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City - Credit: Danny Loo

She said: "It is totally and utterly not within the Garden City ethos, It breaks the council's own rules of not being above five storeys and yet they seem to be looking like they are going to walk all over it.

"It definitely feels like they are trying to confuse people by splitting it all up and having it as this phase and that phase.

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"I think the public think the whole section is Shredded Wheat effectively, therefore the Wheat Quarter."

There are currently three major applications along Broadwater Road: the BioPark (289 homes), Wheat Quarter North Side development (1,220 homes) and the South Side development (721 homes).

Keep the G in WGC poster

Local Groups have made their feeling very clear about the proposals along Broadwater Road - Credit: Keep the G in WGC

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One of the main driving factors behind the developments is the Local Plan, which legally requires the council to build 15,200 homes.

Diane called this figure "ridiculous" and believes the council should be doing more to push back against the requirement as she thinks there will be too many homes and not enough doctor's surgeries, schools, roads or parking.

All three major developments fall in the Peartree ward, and Lib Dem councillor for the area Russ Platt said he was surprised how far the application has come.

He said: "As a resident and councillor I get asked about the Broadwater Road area regularly, residents have huge concerns about how over-development will affect the town and their quality of life.

"I am surprised that this application has actually got this far - it offers a severe lack of social housing and amenity space, building heights and that go against WelHat policy and a dwelling mix that doesn't meet the council's own recommendations (only nine houses out of 289).

"Add to that the large numbers of objections from both the public and official agencies (highways and parking), and it is no surprise that people are up in arms about it and the precedent that it sets.

Russ Platt

Lib Dem councillor Russ Platt - Credit: Russ Platt

"It's high time that there was a proper development plan for Peartree, rather than different developers making applications that offer no cohesion and have little benefit for current or prospective members of the community. If this application, and all the other proposed developments on this 500m stretch of Broadwater Road get approved, the neighbourhood and our town will change forever, and frankly it will no longer have the right to call itself a garden city."

The Welwyn Garden City Society welcomed the council’s recent rejection of the proposals for 111 flats at 73 Bridge Road East and believe the BioPark proposals should also be rejected.

Keep the G in WGC

Keep the G in WGC have sent out leaflets giving residents advice on how they can object to the proposal - Credit: Keep the G in WGC

Chair of WGCS Clive Wilson, said: "It is another over-development that is too dense with too little outdoor space. Where will all these people go? The infrastructure improvements have yet to be confirmed and will not be sufficient to minimise the impacts on the surrounding communities.

"The WGCS have been overwhelmed by the public support to reject the over-development proposals including the one at the BioPark. This support has been from people of all political persuasions.

"The Welwyn Garden City Society is in the final stage of delivering over 1,000 targeted leaflets to non-member households who have registered an interest. We urge everyone to register objections to all three sites, lobby their councillors and MP and to come along to the welcoming party for councillors from 6:30pm on 12 August outside the Campus East council chamber.

"Hopefully we will all be applauding the DMC Councillors after they have rejected the proposed dense over-redevelopment of the BioPark.

Biopark, Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City. Picture: DANNY LOO

Biopark, Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City. - Credit: Danny Loo

"The Society’s targeted leafleting, along with the efforts of our colleagues on ‘Keep the G’ and the Heritage Trust, has prompted over 150 additional objections to be lodged against the BioPark alone - and more are piling in. The community are now realising what is being proposed and they do not like it."

To see or comment on the application visit: planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/6/2020/3420/MAJ.

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