Find more sites or withdraw Local Plan from examination inspector tells council

PUBLISHED: 17:23 07 November 2020

Planning inspector Melvyn Middleton.

Planning inspector Melvyn Middleton.

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The Planning Inspector has given Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council an ultimatum, find more sites for housing or withdraw the existing plan from examination.

In an interim report published last month, Inspector Melvyn Middleton said the council must either propose additional sites sufficient to meet the Full Objectively Assessed Housing Need (FOAHN), or withdraw the plan by the end of November.

Mr Middleton drew several points to his conclusion in the report, noting that the relationship of property prices to earnings has, overall, risen significantly over the last decade, to the detriment of low-income households in the Borough.

He said: “My conclusion at this point therefore is that the housing requirement as currently proposed (16,000 homes from 2016 to 2036), or as could be modified in the light of the 2018 household forecasts, is justified. In my view, a fundamentally lower housing requirement would not support the national objective to boost the supply of housing, which is as relevant in Welwyn-Hatfield as anywhere.”

He added: “Additionally, it would be likely to result in increased inward commuting, which would be inconsistent with the infrastructure constraints and would not be consistent with sustainable development. Moreover, the Council has not provided evidence that demonstrates that it has sought the help of neighbouring authorities through the Duty to Cooperate in providing for any unmet housing need.”

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Mr Middleton noted his ‘serious concerns’ over the amount of time, three and a half years, the examination progress has already taken.

He said businesses need an adopted plan as soon as possible so they can begin building the houses and residents ‘desperately’ need additional housing.

He also concluded that the examination should be brought to a close without further delay.

Mr Middleton said: “In the light of the above conclusion it appears to me that the Council has two main options: To propose additional housing sites, sufficient to meet the

FOAHN, that could become MMs (main modifications), or to withdraw the Plan from examination.

A spokesperson for the council said: “We have reviewed the Inspector’s report in detail and will set out its implications to councillors at a series of meetings in the coming weeks to decide how the Local Plan moves forwards.”

You can find the full interim report on the council’s website.


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