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NMDGBS to oppose 20-acre field plans

North Mymms green belt fields to illustrate the 20-acre field planning story
"The simple fact is that this house does not comply with green belt policies" - NMDGBS
  Camera courtesy of Fujifilm
The North Mymms District Green Belt Society (NMDGBS) says it will resist plans for the construction of a new country house on the 20-acre field 'most strongly', because it says there is nothing in the proposal to justify building on green belt land.

The NMDGBS reached the decision at its meeting on Monday night 12 January.

The group's honorary secretary, Bob Horrocks, has already set out the case for and against the proposed development on this site, and in the siteís forum.

The following is Bob's report on the NMDGBS meeting.

Proposed country house on green belt land near Brookmans Park
By Bob Horrocks, honorary secretary NMDGBS

At its meeting on 12 January the society decided to object most strongly to the proposed development. The society has studied the many reports and plans, and compared the proposals against:-

a. Government Planning Policy Guidance Note 2 (PPG2) on green belts
b. PPG7 - the Countryside: environmental quality etc
c. The current Welwyn Hatfield District Plan, and
d. The District Plan Review. In a Planning Inspectorate report dated 5 January 2004 dismissing an appeal to enlarge Rose Cottage, Leggatts Park, the Inspector said "since the review is at an advanced stage it can be afforded considerable weight as a material consideration."

The society concluded that PPG7 is not relevant. Paragraph 4.11 of PPG7 states that 'policy on Green Belts is set out in PPG2, and is not modified by this PPG.'

PPG2 states that the construction of new buildings inside the green belt is inappropriate unless it is for certain defined purposes.

As a result of the article in last week's Welwyn Hatfield Times, the applicant's agent phoned the society's secretary and acknowledged that the proposal does not fall within those purposes.

The prime objective of the application is to build a house and not farming. She appeared to put great faith in PPG7 which does support new country houses if they are of the highest quality, but seemed to deny the relevance of paragraph 4.11.

PPG2 states in paragraphs 3.1 to 3.3 that inappropriate development may be permitted if the applicant can show very special circumstances which clearly outweigh the harm to the green belt.

The society considered that the 'very special circumstances' offered by the applicant failed this test significantly.

As an example, one was an attempt to link this proposal with a previous farmhouse on the site, but demolished in the 1860s.

There is nothing in either the current District Plan, or District Plan Review, which would justify approval.

The North Mymms District Green Belt has circulated information about this planning application to over 400 houses nearest to this site, which is a 21-acre field at the junction of Bluebridge Road and Hawkshead Road.

A number of residents have contacted the society, indicating that they will be writing to Welwyn Hatfield Council objecting to this proposal.

All comments should be received by Welwyn Hatfield Council by Friday 16 January. Comments should be sent to the Planning Dept, WHC, Council Offices, Welwyn Garden City AL8 6AE reference S6/2003/1701/FP (Mrs Reynolds). The Planning Department's phone number is 01707-357532.

By Bob Horrocks, honorary secretary NMDGBS

Editor's Note:
The majority of those who responded to the forum thread about the development running on this site felt the development should be opposed, although one correspondent saw no harm in the building going ahead.

One forum poster wrote, "This rich personís folly, disguised as a smallholding, must be resisted at all costs."

Another wrote, "Don't we all just get fed up with property developers trying to squeeze into green belt land."

One writer questioned the reason for the plans, "I do wonder if this is a Trojan horse. For this house to gain permission there would have to be a change in the use of the land from agricultural."

Another said it would be inconsistent with previous decisions if the plans were to be given the green light, "How can the local Chancellor's school be refused planning permission on green belt land to help improve their facilities and a house be built in a field."

Only one forum member spoke up in favour of the plans.

"If the house is energy efficient, not unsightly, privately owned and restrictions on masts, aerials, chimneys etc, whatís the problem? How many people walk in this area? If the building is not in the way, and cannot be seen from a public right of way, then I donít see where the damage is going to be," he wrote.

Bob Horrocks or the NMDGBS said it was good for people to air their views in this siteís forum, but only letters written to the council would count when the planning committee considers the plans.

You can discuss this issue in this siteís forum.

12 January 2004

Related News
Letters set out green belt concerns - 2 January 2004
Country house proposed on green belt land - 29 December 2003
Friday Grove letter from NMDGBS - 29 December 2003
Council handed second greenbelt petition - 23 July 2003
Council to be handed second greenbelt petition - 22 July 2003
Green belt petition handed to council - 17 June 2003
Green belt letter to council - 17 June 2003
Opposition to green belt changes grows - 8 June 2003
Green belt update meeting planned - 29 May 2003
Politicians back green belt campaign - 22 May 2003
Green belt proposal opposed - 20 May 2003

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