Council eyes planning application charges for Welwyn Garden City residents

PUBLISHED: 11:33 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:54 06 November 2017

The patches in red are included in the WGC Estate Management Scheme area. Picture credit: Welwyn Hatfield Council.

The patches in red are included in the WGC Estate Management Scheme area. Picture credit: Welwyn Hatfield Council.

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Residents living in certain parts of Welwyn Garden City may have to pay up to £500 when applying for planning permission.

Mandy Perkins.Mandy Perkins.

The town’s Estate Management Scheme, which mainly affects the west side, was designed to maintain the garden city environment by preventing property changes that were not in keeping with the area’s ethos.

Following a Welwyn Hatfield Council consultation last year, which sought residents’ views on keeping, altering or scrapping the scheme, the local authority is looking at instating a dedicated team to oversee it – funded by application charges.

Currently the EMS is paid for through council tax and planning fees.

Ranging from £50 for small projects – including windows, solar panels and fencing – up to a maximum of £500 for extensions, the money could pay for two planning officers to manage EMS applications and investigate breaches.

Mandy Perkins, executive member for planning, housing and community, said: “The consultation last year clearly showed how much residents value the EMS and how strongly they feel about protecting the unique and distinctive character of our garden city.

“I appreciate that people may not favour a charge to offer this protection, but it will help us address the issues around the scheme’s administration and enforcement, ultimately making the process simpler for applicants and fairer for all taxpayers.”

Pending Cabinet approval, a fresh consultation would be launched in the new year by letter seeking residents’ views on the level of charge.

Cllr Perkins added: “As with planning applications, those using the service will benefit from a dedicated professional team to determine their case and investigate reported breaches.”

Email your thoughts to letters@whtimes.co.uk

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