Lib Dems claim Conservative Local Plan designed to fail

Welwyn Hatfield Council could face more housing pressure from those leaving London

The Conservatives' proposed new Local Plan for Welwyn Hatfield is doomed to fail, claim local Lib Dems.  - Credit: Archant

The Conservatives' proposed new Local Plan for Welwyn Hatfield is doomed to fail, claim local Lib Dems.

A revised blueprint for future development in the borough was approved by a Full Council meeting last week. 

But it rejects demands by the Planning Inspector to assign additional sites for development, suggesting a drastically reduced number of homes are built from now to 2036. 

The Liberal Democrats insist the new plan will be rejected by the inspector as it excludes three sites in Brookmans Park and Cuffley which were found to be legally sound. 

Liberal Democrat Cllr Jane Quinton said: “Without these sites, the inspector will be legally unable to pass this plan. The Liberal Democrats put forward an amendment to include these three sites which would add just 450 to the Plan numbers, but it was voted down. At the end of the day the numbers proposed, even with the extra sites, are less than the Inspector has asked for, but this point will be at his discretion whereas the removal of the three sites can’t be.” 

Jane added: “It is almost unbelievable that the Conservatives are so irresponsible – they have spent £9m and 10 years telling everyone what had to be done for a sound plan only to propose a plan designed to fail. The district will now be wide open to speculative development and the council will have less control over which sites are developed and how much affordable housing and infrastructure are provided. It will also face a higher annual building target.  

“The Conservatives will try to put the blame on the inspector who is only enacting Conservative government policy, but they are the ones who have really failed the borough. After Lib Dem action helped save Symondshyde and restrict the numbers in the Wheat Quarter, the Conservatives make a big song and dance about their plan protecting these when in reality they know perfectly well their assurances are useless.” 

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The amendment had not passed, and now the Conservative Local Plan will be submitted again to the Inspector and we will wait for his response. 

But Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives hit back at the claims, with a spokesperson saying: “The facts are simple. We’ve devised a plan that allows us to reduce the number of dwellings due to be built on the Broadwater Road sites in Welwyn Garden City, while protecting Green Belt land across rural parts of Welwyn Hatfield.

"Thanks to our plan, the draft Local Plan now features a reduction of 600 houses on the Broadwater Road sites, and shields many large sections of Green Belt land from development. 

“Left floundering by our strong approach in the council meeting last week, all the Lib Dems could think to do was table a bizarre motion aimed at increasing development in Green Belt sites at the last minute. This plan was rightly rejected both by us and the Labour Party. 

“In fact, the Lib Dem plan was so bad, even their own Leader decided not to support it. The Lib Dems’ position has changed so much over the past few years, nobody knows where they stand. Even they don’t know what their position is.” 

The Conservatives said the original planning permission for the Broadwater Road sites was approved by a committee made up of councillors from all parties, including Lib Dems.

“Lib Dems can be trusted to do little else but complain. They talk big when there’s an election three weeks away and they want your vote, but when the time comes to actually do something, they always fail to do anything at all.

"It’s the Conservatives you can trust to act in your best interest, and by voting through the best plan for Welwyn Hatfield, that’s exactly what we’ve done."