No final decision on Symondshyde and Birchall Garden Suburb in Local PLan

PUBLISHED: 17:12 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:12 09 April 2020

Campaigners have been trying to get Symondshyde  removed from the Local Plan. Picture: Save Symondshyde

Campaigners have been trying to get Symondshyde removed from the Local Plan. Picture: Save Symondshyde

Archant

The planning inspector for the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan has said he is unable to give a decision on the soundness of the Symondshyde or Birchall Garden Suburb.

The land off Cole Green Way for the proposed major housing development, known as Birchall Garden Suburb.The land off Cole Green Way for the proposed major housing development, known as Birchall Garden Suburb.

Planning Inspector Melvyn Middleton revealed last month he was not able to determine if exceptional circumstances existed for the release of either site from the green belt.

Mr Middleton said: “I have previously said that Symondshyde should only be considered if there are not sites that could be developed in more sustainable locations.

“On the evidence before me I have significant doubts about the sustainability of the submitted proposals. Firstly because of the size of the proposal and secondly because of its accessibility in the context of the other developments and facilities in the wider area.

“I have also had reservations about the implications of the southern part of the Birchall Garden Suburb proposal, for the openness of the wider retained Green Belt.”

The proposed Birchall development. Picture: WHBC.The proposed Birchall development. Picture: WHBC.

Cllr Stephen Boulton, executive member for environment and planning, said: “We’ve worked really hard, over many years, to put forward sites that we believe will allow Welwyn Hatfield to grow as sustainably as possible.

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“This includes cllrs recently agreeing to consult on removing sites where the impact on the Green Belt was too high, although at this stage it will be for the inspector to decide whether sites are removed.

“The inspector has asked that we look at the southern part of Birchall Garden Suburb and carry out further work to address noise and visual impacts.

“For Symondshyde, the inspector questioned its sustainability – a concern echoed by councillors and the reason we are consulting on its removal.

“The council will, however, do some further work to see how it could be made more sustainable so the inspector can assess its merits compared to other sites that have been put forward.”

Cllr Malcolm Cowan, leader of Welwyn Hatfield Lib Dems, said in response to the inspector’s findings: “It looks like the council needs to go back and bring forward suitable green belt sites less harmful than Symonshyde or Birchall Garden Suburb so these two can be removed.

“It is a dog’s breakfast at present and the ruling Conservatives should be ashamed they have not set out a realistic choice of sites. The best part of 10 years work and still more effort is needed.”


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