Welwyn Garden City residents could be charged up to £500 for works

PUBLISHED: 17:26 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:26 03 July 2019

Coronation Fountain in Welwyn Garden City on a sunny February 27, 2019. Picture: Andrew Brookes

Coronation Fountain in Welwyn Garden City on a sunny February 27, 2019. Picture: Andrew Brookes

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Residents living in Welwyn Garden City could face charges of up to £500 for works they carry out on their own homes.

The Estate Management Scheme covers the highlighted areas. Picture: WHBC.The Estate Management Scheme covers the highlighted areas. Picture: WHBC.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council says it is proposing changes to its Estate Management Scheme (EMS) as a way of maintaining the character of the garden city.

The updated scheme, if approved, would include a fee and design guideline that residents in parts of Handside, Digswell, Hatfield Hyde, Hall Grove, Panshanger, Peartree and Stanborough and Welwyn Garden City town centre would then have to abide by.

"The message we received when speaking to people is clear - they want to see Welwyn Garden City's unique character protected," said WHBC Cllr Stephen Boulton, who is executive member for planning.

To carry out works or additions to a property, if approved, residents would need to make an EMS Application and then pay a fee of between £0-500 for each change.

Meaning that for lots of projects added up together - a two-storey extension of 10 sqm (£300), a new dormer window (£100), a new hardstanding (£100), a replacement fence (£50), plus a new door (£100) etc - could cost thousands of pounds.

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Projects which would be charged for include satellite dishes, rainwater harvesting, electric charging points, burglar alarms, photovoltaic cells, solar hot water panels and guttering.

The money raised from the scheme will then be used to fund a dedicated team to manage EMS applications and investigate breaches.

Breaches would be determined in reference to a new design guide that covers gardens, frontage, building add-ons and architecture, and would first be settled between the council and the resident.

If no satisfactory agreement could be made the violation would then go to arbitration where residents could face costs up to £3,000.

The design guide includes keeping doors white and minimum parking areas, along with never having caravans, commercial vehicles, boats and trailers outside the property.

The proposals were based on a consultation which took place in late 2016, where nearly half of people agreed they were willing to pay a fee to make an EMS application.

"Our proposals will make the EMS process much simpler, clearer and faster for residents and we look forward to hearing what local people think," Cllr Boulton added.

The scheme and consultation - running till Friday September 6 - can be viewed online here: wgc-ems.org.

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