'Shameless' claim after Welwyn Hatfield housing numbers revealed

PUBLISHED: 14:21 23 October 2014 | UPDATED: 14:05 30 October 2014

Cllr Malcolm Cowan

Cllr Malcolm Cowan

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield's MP has been forced to defend claims of a "shameless" u-turn over housing numbers.

After a possible blueprint for housing development – known as the borough’s Local Plan – were published last week, two opposition leaders went on the attack.

The plans, which are set to go public consultation early next week, show possible sites where 12,500 new homes could go by 2031.

Previously, MP Grant Shapps has claimed that 10,000 homes – a figure mooted by the previous Government – would be too many.

Councillor Malcolm Cowan, Lib Dem, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “It’s quite shameless that 10,000 was too many, but 12,500 gets passed by the Conservatives without any fuss.

“I think we deserve better.”

And Councillor Kieran Thorpe, Labour, said: “Grant Shapps campaigned for a ‘No Way to 10k’ under the old Regional Development Agencies.

“That was a long campaign and he was pictured sipping champagne afterwards.

“But he’s been silent now the number has gone up.”

Following the criticism, Mr Shapps said: “I think the difference is that unlike previously when John Prescott was in charge, these are not top-down targets handed to us by central Government.

“Instead these are numbers which the local area has to assess and justify to satisfy local housing need.

“So essentially Welwyn Hatfield has to come to it’s own conclusion about how many homes will be required for the children of families who live in our area and then submit them in a Local Plan.

“I definitely think that these are very challenging looking housing numbers and I’m very concerned about the amount of Green Belt that they would eat up.”

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