Developers win appeal to build on Northaw Green Belt

An indicative plan of the development for Colesdale Farm, Northaw, Hertfordshire.

An indicative plan of the development for Colesdale Farm. - Credit: AT Architecture

Developers will be allowed to build 34 new homes on the Green Belt in Northaw after a planning inspector said the need for housing outweighed the council’s concerns.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC) rejected the plans in October 2019, but the Planning Inspectorate said the development would not cause substantial harm and granted planning permission.

The plans will see up to 34 dwellings built on Colesdale Farm, which will include a mixture of detached and semi-detached housing and flats.

The original application submitted by DLA Town Planning was for outline planning permission, with specifics of the layout, design and housing mix to be agreed upon at a later date.

In a decision published on February 15, inspector M Aqbal said the development would not cause substantial harm to the openness of the green belt, because the site had previously been developed and the site is sufficiently separated from Cuffley and Northaw. 

In response to concerns about the impact on the character and appearance of the area, the inspector said the existing site has an “uncharacteristically commercial presence and to an extent detracts from the wider rural character and appearance of the area”.

He added the new site would include the removal of storage areas and containers, and the new development including additional landscaping would not be more harmful than the current buildings.

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The inspector also dismissed concerns about the loss of employment site, saying that the demand for housing is “particularly high” in the area and there was no evidence that the loss of the site would undermine key economic sectors.

It was agreed that 30 per cent of the homes should be affordable, while the developers will also provide financial contributions towards primary and secondary school education, and towards an enhancement of library services and young person’s facilities.

An indicative layout submitted in 2019 suggested the affordable housing would include four one and two-bedroom units, and two three-bedroom units with homes up to four bedrooms available at market price.

The dwellings will mainly be two storeys, with 1.5 storey units in the western corner of the site, and the development includes 67 parking spaces.

In granting planning permission, the inspector ultimately decided the provision of new housing held more weight than concerns over the loss of employment land.

The inspector concluded: “The redevelopment of the site would result in the loss of an employment site in conflict with Policy EMP8 of the District Plan. Nevertheless, for the reasons already given, this is outweighed by the need for housing in the area. 

“Consequently, this material consideration is of sufficient weight to outweigh the conflict with the development plan.”