Redevelopment of Welwyn Garden City’s Shredded Wheat site approved by councillors

PUBLISHED: 08:54 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:55 31 March 2017

A computer-generated vision of the proposed development of the former Shredded Wheat factory in Welwyn Garden City.

A computer-generated vision of the proposed development of the former Shredded Wheat factory in Welwyn Garden City.

Archant

A controversial £356million plan to redevelop the site of WGC’s derelict Shredded Wheat factory was approved by councillors last night, despite widespread criticism of the lack of affordable housing.

Even after a last minute offer by site owner Tesco of an extra 15 affordable homes on top of the original 35, the 850-home scheme was criticised by councillors from all parties at the planning committee.

Speaking from the floor, Councillor Malcolm Cowan said: “A developer walking away with £86million (profit) and derisory affordable housing is not acceptable.”

Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Nigel Quinton said the real profit would be much greater than the company had calculated publicly, because the nearby railway station would make the proposed homes very valuable.

Lib Dem councillor Rachel Basch said: “It is going to be very, very lucrative.”

Labour’s Alan Chesterman and Conservative member Irene Dean united to call for a written guarantee that more affordable homes had to be provided in the development’s second stage.

But chief planning officer Colin Haigh said this was not possible with this outline planning application, and assured them they could still reject the details for the second stage in due course if they disliked them.

The council usually insist that major developments should be 30 per cent officially “affordable”.

But Tesco and its supporters argue that the former factory is a special case, as the developer will have to bear the costs of preserving the listed 1920s buildings,

Councillor Steven Maciewicz’s motion to follow the officers’ recommendation to grant planning permission was approved by nine votes to five, with Lib Dem Paul Zukowskyj abstaining.

Tesco’s two associated planning applications, relating to alterations to the listed buildings and improvements to the footbridge, including a lift, were approved with little debate.


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