Welwyn Garden City Society brings in experts for BioPark appeal fight

Biopark, Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City

An appeal to develop the former BioPark site in Welwyn Garden City will be held on July 12. - Credit: Danny Loo

The Welwyn Garden City Society has joined the fight against an appeal to develop the former BioPark site, bringing in a number of experts to support their efforts.

The society has secured the services of a former appeals inspector William Walton, Dr Susan Parham, head of urbanism and planning at the University of Hertfordshire and a garden cities expert, and a housing mix expert with over 30 years' experience to help stop the development.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council refused a planning application for 289 homes in six blocks of up to nine stories in Broadwater Road last September.

But developer HG Group has launched an appeal against the decision, with an eight-day planning inquiry set to take place on July 12.

In a statement, the Welwyn Garden City Society said: “The society believes that local insight and knowledge, combined with best-in-class expertise, is the best way to support the council’s defence against the BioPark proposals.

“We are grateful that the experts are providing their advice pro-bono and at a reduced fee. It would be nice to suitably reward them when we win.

“These experts will be coupled with local resident speakers who have long experience of living in the locality and will speak passionately in the defence.

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“The society has used voluntary unpaid input from members and we are accepting donations which will all be spent defending the appeal.”

The news comes after campaign groups Keep the G in WGC and the WGC Heritage Trust announced they would be joining forces and appointed a planning consultant to fight the appeal.

The Welwyn Garden City Society has confirmed they will allow the groups access to their advocates to ‘cross examine the witnesses at the public inquiry’.

“In the interest of the community, the society has granted Keep the G in WGC and the Heritage Trust group free access to the society’s advocate who will cross examine the witnesses at the public inquiry,” the statement added.

The original application was refused at a tense and heated Development Planning Committee meeting following a 10 to 3 vote against, with the decision greeted by loud cheers from those who attended.

Campaigners protested for a week against the plans in efforts dubbed 'Operation Ben', which saw people don masks of Sir Ebenezer Howard, the visionary founder of the Garden City movement.