‘Omnishambles’ jibe over 7,000 homes plans

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 April 2013

Cllr Mandy Perkins

Cllr Mandy Perkins


FEARS plans to build thousands of homes across Welwyn Hatfield were in danger of becoming an “omnishambles” were voiced last week.

Welwyn Hatfield Council’s Labour leader Kieran Thorpe blasted the authority’s controversial housing blueprint – dubbed the Emerging Core Strategy – at a housing panel meeting.

He took issue with the slow progress of the plans and the emergence of another potential development to the south east of WGC outside the authority’s preferred sites.

But the Conservative plannning and housing spokeswoman councillor Mandy Perkins said the authority was under huge pressure to “get it right”, and said bosses were doing their best to avoid excessive costs.

More than 3,000 responses were received commenting on plans to build more than 7,000 homes in the borough, with sites to the north of Hatfield and Panshanger Aerodrome sparking protests.

It is expected interim findings will be published in the summer, with a further round of consultation after that.

Speaking at the cabinet housing and planning panel – at which councilllors were given an update on the progress of the core strategy consultations – Cllr Thorpe said: “To me this process is in danger of becoming an omnishambles.

“What we have just finished doing is consulting, with a system of consulting a lot of people didn’t use and didn’t understand.

“Having looked at it I don’t blame them.

“We have got good staff here at the council who understand the importance of the core strategy in the years to come and I think it is a shame we have a cabinet that doesn’t understand how important it is.”

Councillor Thorpe’s outburst comes as the borough ploughs through the 3,000 responses to its plans to build 7,200 homes across Welwyn Hatfield over the next 16 years.

Sites on Panshanger Aerodrome and Hatfield Garden Village have angered residents with petitions handed to councillor Perkins.

She took issue with councillor Thorpe’s attack and said: “We do need to make sure we get this right... we don’t intend in doing this at all costs, but cost is a very relevant issue and we are very mindful the whole process is very costly by its very nature to the local taxpayer.

“What I really don’t want to do is to get it wrong and find we have spent more money than we needed to spend.”

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