New homes meeting update
By Bob Horrocks, Secretary of the North Mymms District Green Belt Society
(Note: The NMDGBS is campaigning against the proposed increase in new dwellings.)
Almost a hundred local residents attended a public meeting organised by the North Mymms District Green Belt Society to draw attention to proposals to build 10,000 new dwellings in Welwyn Hatfield.
The proposals have been recommended by planning inspectors in their report to Ruth Kelly, Minister for Communities and Local Government.
The NMDGBS's chairman, Claire Taylor, introduced Hertfordshire County Councillor Bill Storey who explained how the overall planning system had changed in recent years, with individual county structure plans being replaced by regional plans such as the East of England Plan.
Cllr Storey then spoke about the region-wide problems of existing water shortages, the sewerage system for the county, jobs, and roads.
He noted that the East Coast Main Line could not handle any greater volume of trains unless the Digswell viaduct was widened, but previous proposals to do so had been abandoned and the necessary land disposed off.
Equally the railway line to Stansted would have problems in handling more traffic on that side of the county. Adding more carriages to trains would bring different problems.
I, Bob Horrocks, the NMDGBS’s secretary, then summarised the Inspectors reasons why Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield were ideal for expansion.
These included job expansion caused by the university and planned health campus, plus the good transport links to London and Stevenage.
The inspectors concluded that these were exceptional circumstances and justified building on the green belt.
The inspectors did add caveats about water, sewerage, transport, etc. and the funding of their provision.
The meeting concluded with a lively question time during which Cllr Keith Pieri announced that he and Cllr Ron Walker had just come from a meeting at Welwyn Hatfield Council at which they had been told the county had to provide sites for 45 caravan pitches for travellers.
You can discuss this issue in this site’s forum.
3 October 2006