‘Chequersgate’ - vanishing planning application for Welwyn Garden City dump

MYSTERY surrounds the fate of a patch of land in WGC amid fears a huge rubbish dump replacing the Cole Green site could open.

A county council application appeared on Welwyn Hatfield Council’s online planning website proposing the “redevelopment of the Chequersfield North site”, only to disappear once the WHT began to probe the issue.

Worried residents took to the Welwyn Hatfield Forum on MP Grant Shapps’ website to voice their concerns at what is being dubbed ‘Chequersgate’.

One user, Mythoughts, wrote: “Well, a document is up now and one of the possibilities is closing the Cole Green dump/tip/whatever you call it and building a massive new one in WGC with 20 skips and 20 parking spaces.”

Once the application was removed, Mythoughts added: “Lo and behold, the only document that did relate to this has suddenly been removed from the planning website.”

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A county council spokeswoman said categorically that they were “not going to be using it [the land] as landfill.”

But a document seen by the WHT laid out the council’s real intentions, and exposed behind closed doors discussions had been taking place between the two authorities.

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The ‘Proposed redevelopment of the Chequersfield North Site’ states an intention to construct a household waste recycling centre (HWRC) “replacing the existing facility at Cole Green”, the lease of which expires in December next year.

It also earmarks the area as “a suitable site for the location of bad neighbour/dirty user industries”.

Despite the plans, the document itself does say: “The site is too small and vulnerable to accommodate all the facilities which the county council would normally seek to provide at one of its HWRCs.”

The site would also host a fire and rescue training centre if the plans get the green light.

A county council spokeswoman, commenting about the vanishing application, said: “It shouldn’t have been up as a planning application anyway.”

And she confirmed the county council had ordered the borough council to remove the application.

When pressed over the plans to relocate the Cole Green site to WGC she insisted that “a recycling centre is very different from a dump”.

She added: “The Chequersfield North site could possibly be suitable for a new recycling facility, but we have not as yet submitted a planning application to this effect.”

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