Welwyn Hatfield eyes former Potters Bar golf club for Local Plan housebuilding

PUBLISHED: 14:36 14 December 2018

L: Inspector Melvyn Middleton at a Local Plan hearing in 2017. R: Welwyn Hatfield green belt land. Picture: WHBC/Save Symondshyde

L: Inspector Melvyn Middleton at a Local Plan hearing in 2017. R: Welwyn Hatfield green belt land. Picture: WHBC/Save Symondshyde

WHBC/Save Symondshyde

With Welwyn Hatfield Council's 4,000-home shortfall in its Local Plan, its planners are now reaching out to Hertsmere for help.

On October 24, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC’s) Local Plan was deemed to be ‘currently unsound’ due to the shortfall against its mandate of 16,000 homes.

The council met yesterday (December 13) to move the plan forward and will announce a new call for sites in the New Year.

READ MORE: Inspector finds Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan ‘currently unsound’

Cllr Stephen Boulton, executive member for planning, said: “We must prove to the inspector that we’ve explored all possible options to deliver the level of growth the borough needs for the future.”

In so doing, the council notes that neighbouring Hertsmere may end up with enough potential sites to fulfil its mandated housebuilding programme, and possibly more besides.

Maybe enough to help their neighbours out in Welwyn Hatfield?

Working to a different time frame to WHBC, the sites have not been proposed formally by Hertsmere Borough Council (HBC) itself yet, and they may not all be viable for development.

WHBC also noted that HBC is using a projection model that could be revised, which could eventually put HBC under more pressure than currently.

Nonetheless, four potential sites have been spotted by the eagle eyes of WHBC planners - all near Potters Bar.

They include the former golf club, close to Welwyn Hatfield’s border, which abruptly ceased trading on November 20.

READ MORE: Potters Bar Golf Club ceases trading after 95 years

The site, which forms part of the Green Belt and helps separate Potters Bar from Brookmans Park, has been identified by WHBC as “the site with the strongest relationship to Welwyn Hatfield”, and has a potential capacity of 570 homes.

Residents have raised concerns about urban sprawl around Potters Bar.

The golf course combined with the other three sites have a potential capacity for over 3,000 homes, according to WHBC.

The two authorities have a Memorandum of Understanding from May 2017 saying WBC would try to help WHBC out in this where possible, but nothing firm has been agreed.

In a draft letter to HBC, WHBC says: “Welwyn Hatfield would like to formally repeat the request it made ... that Hertsmere give consideration to whether it is in a position to meet some or all of Welwyn Hatfield’s unmet housing needs.”

WHBC’s draft letter also raises the question over the impact of a potential plan for a 4,000-home garden village. The areas of search are all located near Potters Bar, approaching Welwyn Hatfield’s border.

WHBC reiterated the need to give attention to the implications of building so many homes there, as well as the impact on Redwell Wood and other wildlife sites.

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