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Vet college: assurances demanded

Councillors considering the Royal Veterinary College's proposals to extend its site have been asked to press for three main conditions before granting permission for the building to begin.

In an open letter to the chief planning officer at Welwyn Hatfield Council and copied to this site, a member of the Gobion Woodlands Trust says he supports the plans as long as the three issues are resolved.

Local resident Bernard Spatz, writing to the 'Have Your Say' section of this site, says the RVC is an asset, which brings prestige to the area, and the students enliven the community. He says the estate is generally well run with consideration for the natural environment and for its neighbours.

However he says issues of access, landscaping and assurances for the future use of the land need to be settled first.

Improved vehicular access needed

Mr Spatz says the RVC will clearly need better vehicular access from South Mimms roundabout via Swanland Road.

“An access road should enter RVC property from Warrengate Road to the south of the water treatment works. If the relevant part of Warrengate Road cannot also be improved (say, in conjunction with measures to alleviate flooding), then a further short east-west road to Swanland Road would be required.”

“It is not acceptable for a bypass to cut across land to the south of Hawkshead Lane - this land is truly a Green Belt between Welwyn Hatfield and Hertsmere and any road on it would only be an encouragement for Hertsmere Council to allow further encroachment. I find it a major failing of the RVC's plans that they do not allow for access from the north west of their property,” he writes.

Assurances about the future

Mr Spatz also says assurances about the future are needed.

“The RVC is relying on the goodwill shown towards it by the Council and the community as a whole. That goodwill has been tested by some of the RVC's actions, such as erecting unsightly buildings at Bolton's Farm and the consequences of the way the RVC sold the Folly Arch and the land around it.”

“The goodwill would evaporate immediately if, say, because 'land is now surplus to requirements', or 'we need to make best use of our resources', RVC land were sold off and subsequently used for building (agricultural, or otherwise), intensive pig farming, or a golf course.”

“Planning permission for this project would be a very valuable concession to the RVC: in return the RVC should make a legally binding covenant limiting the use of all the land it holds in the area in perpetuity,” he writes.

Landscaping needed

Finally there is the issue of landscaping.

“Current RVC buildings, including the Queen Mother Hospital, are visible from the station, Gobions Open Space and the upper floors of many houses. It is proposed to build on land which is significantly higher, so the proposed buildings will be even more obtrusive.”

“Screening by trees is proposed, but it is not clear to what extent the buildings will be hidden from view. The Council should make it clear what is expected and state that landscaping requirements will be vigorously enforced,” he writes.

The plans will not be considered before the next council planning meeting on March 9 and possibly not even then. The council says it will accept representations right up to the date of a meeting, not just within the statutory minimum time from publication of the formal notice.

The RVC expansion plans, number S6/2000/39/FP, are available for inspection at Welwyn Hatfield Council.

The plans are also published on the RVC website, showing the area to be developed, drawings of the scale of the development and details of the case for supporting the plan.

The North Mymms Green Belt Society's views are set out on its website

February 14, 2000

Have your say: Should the Royal Veterinary College expand into green belt land? Have Your Say

Recent news:
Bypass: society urged to consult locals - February 6, 2000
Local resident's e-mail opposing bypass plan - February 6, 2000

NMGBS's e-mail supporting bypass plan - February 4, 2000
Green Belt Society backs bypass
- February 4, 2000
Anger over bypass plan
- February 1, 2000
Hawkshead Lane bypass bid - January 30, 2000
Vet college expansion plans submitted - January 26, 2000
Green belt vets expansion plan - Dec 10, 1999
Vet College expansion opposed - Nov 13, 1999
Vet College plans to expand - Sept 29, 1999
Golf club 'rumours' spark green belt fears - July 27, 1999
Golf club housing plan opposed - July
6, 1999


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