Plans for 1,100 homes in Hatfield dropped

Arlington Business Parks Hatfield

Arlington Business Parks plan for the development in Hatfield. - Credit: Arlington Business Parks

Developers have withdrawn plans to build 1,100 homes in Hatfield just days before a councillors were set to vote, after officers recommended throwing out the proposals.

Arlington Business Parks had brought forward plans to build the new homes, along with a new primary school and retail units, but withdrew the plans on Tuesday, days before they were set to be discussed.

The plans were initially submitted to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council in 2018, but were set to be voted on by councillors on Thursday, March 3.

The 67.5 hectare site would have been built on Ellenbrook Park, to the west of Hatfield Business Park and University of Hertfordshire. 

Plans for a quarry on the park site were dismissed by inspectors in January, with an inspector noting that it would harm the Green Belt and affect the character and appearance of the area.

The housing development would have included three distinct neighbourhood connected through a north-south corridor, along with green space for the three areas.

It would have also included a two-form entry primary school and local centre, as well as a care home and new outdoor sports pitches.

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In its planning application, the developers said: “Arlington’s vision for the development is to create a ‘Forest Village’, set within a well wooded landscape and reflecting Hertfordshire’s woodland heritage.”

Arlington said the new development would be inspired by the design of Hatfield’s new town while being integrated into the surrounding countryside.

It added the development would sit alongside any quarry, if approved, with the green space restored after mineral extraction is completed.

During the consultation period, the council received 147 objections to the plans and two letters of support.

Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, district council officers had recommended councillors reject the plans, raising concerns about the impact of the loss of Green Belt land in the area.

Their report said: “The proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

There would also be a considerable loss of Green Belt openness and conflict with a number of purposes of including land in the Green Belt.”

It added the development would lead to the loss of a significant proportion of the important community and green infrastructure in Ellenbrook Fields.

Arlington had claimed there was very special circumstances to justify the development, including contributing significantly to the borough council’s housing supply. However, officers said there was no clear evidence the development would begin within the next five years so would not contribute to the council’s supply in the near future.

Officers also noted the site was found to be unsuitable during the Local Plan process, and it was in conflict with the settlement strategy set out within the emerging Local Plan.

The report concluded: “Taking account of the above, it is considered that the other considerations advanced by the applicant would not clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harms resulting from the proposal. 

“Very special circumstances necessary to justify the development do not exist and, therefore, this application is recommended for refusal.”

The application was set to be discussed by the Development Management Committee on Thursday, March 3 but the application was withdrawn ahead of the meeting.

Arlington has been approached for comment on whether the plans may be re-submitted.