Consultation on protection of employment sites at Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and Cuffley

PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 July 2019

The former Xerox site in Welwyn Garden City is one example of a site lost in recent years. Picture: Kevin Lines.

The former Xerox site in Welwyn Garden City is one example of a site lost in recent years. Picture: Kevin Lines.

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Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council will launch a consultation on whether to protect employment space at Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and Cuffley sites.

Xerox site. Picture: Kevin Lines.Xerox site. Picture: Kevin Lines.

Currently, office buildings can be converted into residential use without planning permission - leading to 27,000 sqm of office space in Welwyn Hatfield being lost since 2013.

The conversions, according to a report by a council committee, also mean normal planning rules surrounding affordable housing, infrastructure, education and healthcare do not apply.

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WHBC Cllr Stephen Boulton, who is executive member for resources, said: "We all understand that we need new homes, but we must find a balance between delivering new housing and its impact on our business and wider community.

"We're really fortunate to have such a buoyant local economy and for it to continue to grow and create new jobs, we need to retain good quality employment space for all sizes and types of business."

Under a new plan, called the Article 4 Direction, sites in the Welwyn Garden City employment area, Hatfield Business Park and Bishop Square, Beaconsfield Road/Great North Road in Hatfield and Sopers Road Industrial Estate in Cuffley, would be protected.

The council is seeking the public's view on the plan.

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