‘Soundness’ of Welwyn Garden City’s more than thousand homes development questioned

PUBLISHED: 12:13 17 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:13 17 December 2019

The proposed Birchall development. Picture: WHBC.

The proposed Birchall development. Picture: WHBC.


Welwyn Garden City’s proposed Birchall development – which could have an estimated 1,200 homes – is facing fresh questions during the Local Plan hearings.

Planning inspector Melvyn Middelton said, yesterday, that the Birchall Garden Suburb plan would be able to provide a "not insignificant" percent of the housing need for the area.

Some of the development would also fall in East Herts.

He added that the purpose of the inquiry was to look into how sound part of its housing plan near Panshanger Park and the A414 is.

Much of the session focussed on Green Belt release, the Green Corridor, employment, retail development, community/education development, traveller sites and waste.

The Welwyn Garden City Society took issue with the work that has been done on looking into contamination.

Shaun O'Reilly, of the WGC society, said the site - since the 1920s - has been used as a dumping ground, which could cause health problems.

He said this could have caused a cancer cluster due to dangerous gases flowing from the site but there was insufficient information to determine how big an issue this was.

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Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council's Sue Tiley responded to the concerns by saying the council has had correspondence with WHBC public health and have referred the evidence on but no one has said its inadequate for development.

She also added that environmental health officers and the Environment Agency were also consulted and did not come up with any objections.

The developer Tarmac added that they have monitored the boreholes in the area.

Mr Darren Banner-Perry, representing Tarmac through Royal Haskoning, said: "[The holes] have been there for years and people have access to that site."

Tarmac also looked into how drainage could be done safely and faced questions on noise levels considering the proximity of BP Mitchell's Burnfield site.

It claims it will institute mitigation measures, which have been accepted by the council.

However, it is unclear what final decision the inspector Mr Middelton will make surrounding the soundness of this housing plan.

Local Plan hearings continue today and tomorrow.

You will be able to view the full sessions online here welhat.public-i.tv/core/portal/home.

For more information on the Local Plan hearings please go here: welhat.gov.uk/local-plan/new/examination/view-hearing-sessions/stage6.

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