Plans to build 80 new flats in Hatfield approved

CGI of the Link Drive high rise flats development from Queensway, Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

CGI of the Link Drive development from Queensway. - Credit: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council / Hunters

Plans to build 80 new flats in Hatfield have been backed for a second time after the borough council agreed to transfer affordable housing away from the site.

The plans were previously approved in July 2020, but Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council submitted an amended scheme after finding it could be more cost-effective to merge affordable housing elsewhere in Hatfield.

The development will see a six-storey apartment block containing 80 flats built on the current Link Drive car park.

Developer Lovell is also leading work on One Town Centre, and the borough council has said it would be cost-effective to place all social units in the same location, despite councillors raising concerns about potential ‘ghettoisation’.

CGI image of the new One Town Centre plan for Hatfield, Hertfordshire, which will include a new public square and flats.

One Town Centre will include new retail space, public square and flats. - Credit: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council / Hunters

Construction work has already begun on One Town Centre, which includes space for 71 flats as well as new retail floor space in 1 and 3-9 Town Centre.

The scheme includes three separate blocks, with one block now expected to include all 38 affordable homes from both schemes. 

The council said this would provide the same number of affordable units as already agreed – 18 from One Town Centre and 20 from Link Drive – but by having the units in one place, it could save the council money when it comes to repairs or improvement works.

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While the two schemes are only around 150m apart, Councillor Pankit Shah (Labour, Hatfield Central) raised concern about the fairness of placing all the affordable housing in a single place, rather than spread across the developments.

Councillor Jackie Brennan (Liberal Democrat), representing Hatfield Town Council, made a similar point saying their members preferred a mix between the two schemes.

The other two blocks in One Town Centre would be private, market value flats but the three blocks will be made to the same standard and design, with shared communal outdoor space to avoid a split between the development.

Despite the concerns, the committee’s chair Councillor Jonathan Boulton said: “I think it would be hard to argue there is ‘ghettoisation’ if there are two blocks on the same site which have private housing. It would be much more the case if you’re creating a location where there was nothing but affordable housing, that would be more of a concern.”

Other amendments to the Link Drive plans include two electric vehicle charging points, changes to the energy and ventilation strategy and minor changes to the landscaping scheme.

Cllr Brennan said members of the town council had also raised concerns about the lack of three and four-bedroom housing in the developments, and the amount of parking on the Link Drive site but officers were satisfied the plans were appropriate for the location.

Both schemes were subject to separate applications during Thursday’s meeting and were both approved by councillors.

The decision to grant planning permission to the Link Drive plans passed by 9-2, with two abstentions.