Developments in Welwyn Garden City must not deviate from Ebenezer Howard's principles says councillor

Councillor Stephen Boulton

Councillor Stephen Boulton, executive member for environment, planning, estates and development. - Credit: WHBC

Planning applications that run counter to published policies on garden cities are being approved increasingly often, the borough council has been warned.

Sherrards ward councillor Frank Marsh queried how planning officers have been able to produce recommendations for large developments in Welwyn Garden City in spite of Ebenezer Howard's founding principles.

Sherrards ward councillor Frank Marsh

Sherrards ward councillor Frank Marsh - Credit: WHBC

At a full council meeting last night, the Lib Dem councillor said: "There are increasing numbers of occurrences of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s planning officers producing recommendations on applications that run counter to published policies, whether on parking standards, size and tenure of homes or heights.

"In a town founded on having comprehensive planning policies and garden city principles, how and why has this been allowed to happen?”

Cllr Stephen Boulton, executive member for environment, planning, estates and development, responded by saying that each planning applications is considered based on "its own merits" and officers take into account a great deal of context, including national and local policies, before making a decision.


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He said: "The council has robust policies on design of new developments to ensure they are of the highest quality. These do not set absolute limits on height but seek to ensure that new developments coming forward is of the highest quality of design and do not impact negatively on heritage assets."

Taking the developments on Broadwater Road as an example, Cllr Boulton spoke about its supplementary planning document which was adopted in 2008. The document set out the assessment criteria for buildings over five storeys in height, including design quality, sustainability and local environment impacts including heritage.

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He added: "The original Wheat Quarter application was carefully assessed against all these criteria. Ultimately any planning decision needs to take into consideration a wide range of issues including that land in sustainable locations well served by public transport is utilised to maximum efficiency."

Cllr Marsh added: "We have to ensure that the standards set out with our principles are upheld and we mustn't deviate from what Ebenezer Howard set out to do in the town."

Cllr Boulton reiterated that he was "satisfied" with any decisions made by planning officers as they have been "properly assessed against all the necessary criteria". 

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