Inspector slams Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council's Local Plan delays

PUBLISHED: 06:50 15 August 2019

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council draft Local Plan and logo. Photo: WHBC.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council draft Local Plan and logo. Photo: WHBC.

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The government's planning inspector has criticised Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council over its delayed approval of the draft Local Plan.

Draft Local Plan proposed allocations and sites promoted through the 2019 call for sites. Photo: WHBC.Draft Local Plan proposed allocations and sites promoted through the 2019 call for sites. Photo: WHBC.

Melvyn Middleton, in a letter to the council which the Welwyn Hatfield Times has obtained, said if further "slippage" occurs then the council should consider "withdrawing the plan with a view to re-submitting it for examination when the work is finally completed and there are no obvious soundness issues accompanying it".

READ MORE: Action plan to meet growing housing demand agreed by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

"I would also ask you to revise the agreed timetable immediately, putting forward realistic time periods and milestones for the conclusion of all of the outstanding tasks, including the hearings," Mr Middleton urged the council in the letter, dated August 8.

A WHBC spokeswoman responded that they are "not minded to withdraw the plan" and "would prefer to continue with this process".

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"We are considering the inspector's letter, and will continue to liaise with him via the programme officer on an appropriate timetable," she added.

But the inspector did not seem confident the "provision of housing allocations" would be finialised by the beginning of April 2020, "or indeed in May of that year" after discussion of it has been delayed.

He also said the council is missing its timescales and reports due in June and July.

"This has already been a long examination and such circumstances, where changes are made over a long period, can be difficult for representors and communities to engage with," he said.

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Other reviews into the noise and pollution on the A414 Birchall Garden Suburb proposal and chalk dissolution features originally submitted by Save Symondshyde have also not been published.

"I would therefore ask you to publish all outstanding non-Green Belt site material immediately so that consultation can take pace in a timely fashion and allow any necessary hearings on those outstanding matters to take place in November," he said.

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