Welwyn Hatfield Lib Dems call for large drop in number of houses in Local Plan

PUBLISHED: 15:48 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:48 23 July 2020

The Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Paul Zukowskyj. Picture:Paul Zukowskyj.

The Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Paul Zukowskyj. Picture:Paul Zukowskyj.

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Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats have claimed the number of proposed houses in the Local Plan should be thousands lower.

The site in Bell Bar, BrP1, which was included in the draft Local Plan. Picture: WHBCThe site in Bell Bar, BrP1, which was included in the draft Local Plan. Picture: WHBC

The current assesed need for housing throughout Welwyn Hatfield is 16,000 new homes, but new data suggests that figure should be under 10,000.

The release of projections for new households from the Office for National Statistics on June 29, shows that Welwyn Hatfield needs just 9,000 additional households not 16,000.

The 2014 data for the period 2013 to 2036 projected an additional 15,000 households.

However, 2016 data suggested this number had fallen to 14,000, but this adjustment was not applied to the Local Plan for technical reasons.

The site in Bell Bar, BrP1, which was included in the draft Local Plan. Picture: BLAGThe site in Bell Bar, BrP1, which was included in the draft Local Plan. Picture: BLAG

Now the change in the 2018 data shows a decrease in the forecast to under 9,000 additional households.

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Paul Zukowskyj, Lib Dem Borough Councillor for Welham Green and Hatfield South commented: “The massive decrease in additional households simply cannot be ignored. A 40 per cent reduction in projected households should be reflected by a massive fall in the number of homes our Local Plan proposes to build. Instead of the assessed 16,000 the Borough Council is tasked with finding, the proposed number should fall to under 10,000. This means many of the current inappropriate proposed sites can be removed or reduced.

“This is, of course, before we see the economic impacts of COVID and Brexit and the fallout from those. I fully expect the projected need for housing to fall even further in the coming year or two. It might be that our council would be doing our community a massive disservice were it to agree to build on so many Green Belt sites and cram so many homes into our town centres when those homes won’t actually be needed in the local plan.”

READ MORE: Local Plan: Bell Bar are ‘sacrificial lambs’ to preserve Brookmans Park

Councillor Stephen Boulton, executive member for planning and environment, said: “We are reviewing the figures to see what implications they may have on the borough’s Objectively Assessed Need for housing.

“These figures and the other factors that must also be considered will be included in the new study which we have commissioned from our consultants, the results of which will be used to inform the examination moving forwards.

“Whatever the outcome, finding the balance that delivers the right plan for the future of Welwyn Hatfield remains our top priority.”

To view the data click here.

The Local plan hearing sessions begin next week on July 28. For more information click here.


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