Save Symondshyde still waiting for inspector's report

Symondshyde Green.

Symondshyde Green. A decision is still awaited on whether the land could be developed for housing. - Credit: John Gardener

Campaigners are still facing a waiting game for news on whether a much-loved area of Green Belt land has been saved from development.

The proposals to develop Symondshyde, put forward by Gascoyne Cecil Estates Ltd in 2016, have remained in the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan despite objections from the public and a decision by the council that it should be removed.

Campaign group Save Symondshyde said nothing much has happened since the beginning of March, when the Local Plan was examined by government inspector Melvyn Middleton.

The inspector said in his summary that he would send his report as soon as the local elections were over, which suggested a date after May 7.

Symondshyde Green.

Symondshyde Green. - Credit: John Gardener

Campaign chair John Gardner said: "We, and others, have contacted the council and the examination’s programme officer.

"The report would appear to be with the inspectorate still, and perhaps a couple of weeks away from being published.

"We’re not sure why there is a delay especially as the inspector was eager for the council to speed up the process. We’re concerned about yet another delay, and the risk after so may delays that the council will make a hasty or ill-thought through response."

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In the wake of the inspector's examination, the campaign group said it was disappointed that the housing figures remained so high especially as the latest ONS statistics show a marked drop in demand.

The inspector had previously questioned whether a standalone village around 1km from the nearest other development and over three miles from and railway stations or transport hubs could be considered “sustainable”.

John added: "We were surprised by the ridiculous proposal from the developers that adding 400 more houses would make the development more sustainable, arguing it might increase bus usage. the numbers clearly show a net increase in car journeys of between 10 and 15 per cent.

"But 15 per cent more car journeys is no more 'sustainable' than most Welwyn Hatfield residents would find a small number of houses priced at 80 per cent 'affordable'."

Aerial view of Symondshyde Green Belt land.

Aerial view of Symondshyde Green Belt land. - Credit: Save Symondshyde

A spokesperson for Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council said: “We are expecting a series of reports from the inspector setting out his views on the stage nine hearing sessions.

"Whilst we have received some information, it is incomplete, and we are hopeful the inspector will send the information outstanding by the end of this month.

“The council has advocated for the removal of Symondshyde from the plan. However, only the inspector can remove sites at this stage so we will review our position when we receive his reports."