Do you want employment spaces further protected in borough?

Hatfield Business Park. Picture: Kevin Lines.

Hatfield Business Park. Picture: Kevin Lines. - Credit: Archant

Protection for key employment space in the borough, that could be turned into homes easily under planning rules, are being proposed by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

The council's second Article 4 Direction would cover important sites in the borough like Welwyn Garden City employment area and Hatfield Business Park, including Bishop Square, Beaconsfield Road and Great North Road in Hatfield, and Sopers Road Industrial Estate in Cuffley.

An Article 4 Direction on these sites came into effect in 2020 which removed the rights to convert office space to residential accommodation without planning permission permitted development rights.

The new proposed Article 4 Direction would have the effect of withdrawing permitted development rights, which allow the demolition of certain types of employment buildings and replacing them with residential accommodation without planning permission.

The borough has continued to see a net loss of employment floorspace , which stood at 5,903m2 in 2019/20. Another notable loss in 2019/20 was at the Entech House site in Woolmer Green, which is being redeveloped for housing.

The impact on the community is also of concern, as permitted developments are not required to provide affordable housing or the Section 106 contributions usually agreed through the planning process towards infrastructure, education and healthcare.

Councillor Stephen Boulton, executive member for planning, said: “Building new homes is an essential part of maintaining the prosperity of Welwyn Hatfield. However, this needs to be carefully balanced with growing the local economy by attracting businesses, creating jobs and boosting footfall. Providing good quality employment space is a key part of that.”

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The Government is also thinking of bringing in new permitted development rights that would allow shops to be converted to homes. They assert that “This right will provide much needed new homes across the country, giving clarity and planning certainty and attract footfall to high streets that new residents will bring. All homes would be required to meet national space standards.” 

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is consulting on the proposed Article 4 Direction for a period of six weeks until March 15.

Representations can be made at