Welwyn Hatfield campaigners object to potential increase of hundreds of houses at Symondshyde site
PUBLISHED: 16:18 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:18 29 September 2020
A campaign group has responded to proposals from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to increase the size of a proposed new settlement near Symondshyde Farm and the 3 Brewers of St Albans pub.
The proposal, put forward as part of the Local Plan in 2016 by Gascoyne Cecil Estates (GCE), sought to build 1,100 houses and a primary school on local Green Belt land located between St Albans and Hatfield.
More than 400 residents in Welwyn Hatfield and neighbouring St Albans district originally objected to the plan.
In March the Local Plan inspector Melvyn Middleton stated: “I have significant doubts about the sustainability of the submitted proposals. Firstly because of the size of the proposals and secondly because of its accessibility in the context of other developments and facilities in the wider area.”
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Last month WHBC and GCE proposed increasing the size of the proposed settlement from 1,130 to 1,500 – an increase of over a third, bringing it to within 700m of Hatfield.
Judy Shardlow, a spokesperson for the Save Symondshyde group said: “In January 2020 Welwyn Hatfield councillors agreed unanimously that the original proposals for 1,100 Symondshyde should be removed from the Local Plan. And yet we find, despite a democratic council meeting rejecting this site, the proposal is still forging ahead with a further 400 houses added.
“It appears that the inspector also holds many of our concerns about this site in terms of sustainability, urban coalescence and harm to the Green Belt. However, we do not believe that these concerns can be addressed by increasing the size of Symondshyde by a further 35 per cent, bringing it to 1,500 houses.”
A spokesperson for the council said: “We were asked by the inspector during the Symondshyde hearing session to consider whether a larger development would achieve greater levels of transport sustainability.
“Gascoyne Cecil as landowner responded by suggesting an additional parcel of land. This has been forwarded to the inspector for consideration, while recognising that the council consulted on changes that would remove the site from the Local Plan.
“In the coming months, councillors will decide whether to retain Symondshyde as submitted, to favour a larger site or to remove Symondshyde from the plan – although in all three cases it remains a matter for the inspector to decide what is ‘sound’.”
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