'Where are the housing reductions for Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield?'

WGC Protest - Reject Welwyn Concrete City and High Rise Hell.Picture: Karyn Haddon

Campaigners wore Ebenezer Howard masks over the summer to protest the development of high-rise flats. - Credit: Karyn Haddon

Campaigners are "dismayed" by the lack of housing reductions for Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield after a Local Plan meeting reduced development at other sites in the borough.

The much-anticipated cabinet meeting earlier this week was good news for some, but bad news for others. 

Among the sites dropped from the Local Plan were the proposals to build 1,500 new homes in Symondshyde, 300 homes to the west of Brookmans Park railway station, 100 homes south of Hawkshead Road, Little Heath and two developments in Cuffley, thereby reducing the overall target from 15,200 to 13,279.

But Kate Cowan, a member of Keep the G in WGC, said: "I'm still searching for any sites in WGC that have been dropped or reduced (e.g. BioPark site). Nope. Nothing. Nada. I'm pretty dismayed. Where are the reductions in WGC and Hatfield?"

Biopark, Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City. Picture: DANNY LOO

Biopark, Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

The new list of potential sites contains 250 homes on BioPark and 2,003 in the Wheat Quarter. A total of 4,500 new dwellings are planned for Welwyn Garden City.

"The figures once again make Welwyn Garden city the target for huge numbers of dwellings, at a density that does not befit the name Garden City," Kate said.

Founder of Keep the G in WGC Martin Norman commented: “It came as no surprise that WGC is set to be the focus of suffering due to the exclusion of sites in other areas of the borough, including of course Brookmans Park."

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However, for Russell Haggar, a member of Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group, housing reductions for Welwyn and Digswell are good news in the short term.

He said that the current target makes a lot more sense – and it would mean no development around Singlers Marsh or behind New Road.

Singlers Marsh

Singlers Marsh - Credit: Kevin Lines

"However, the council has just ripped up the rule book, and so no-one knows what will happen next," Russell commented. 

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"Communities will want to know what’s going to happen without more years of uncertainty, so we can only hope that WHBC works out what it’s going to do as soon as possible." 

A spokesperson from the council said: "Following Cabinet's decision to reject the increase in housing numbers recommended by the government's Planning Inspector, no further decisions on sites and housing numbers can be made until the Special Council meeting on 27 January.

"This is where Cabinet's recommendation of suitable sites for just over 13,000 homes, preventing unnecessary expansion into Welwyn Hatfield's green belt, will be considered."