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Letter to residents of Hawkshead Lane, Swanland Road and Warrengate Road

From the Hon Secretary North Mymms Green Belt Society

November 1999

Bob Horrocks,
19 Swanley Bar Lane, Potter Bar, Herts EN6 1NR
Telephone - home 01707 653713

You may have seen in the local newspapers that the Royal Vet College has applied for a major expansion of its facilities. The proposal is to build a ‘large animal clinical centre’ on the field between the Queen Mother Small Animal Hospital and the railway bridge. This is Green Belt land and outside the area designated by the Council as a Major Development Site for the RVC.

The plans and statement issued for this planning application are available on the Internet on www.rvc.ac.uk Comments and enquiries etc. may be sent to RVC Estates, main offices, RVC, Royal College St, London NW1 0TU, telephone 0171 468 5111 to the office dealing with planning, estates, projects and the environment.

For your information we have reproduced below the objections we have made to Welwyn Hatfield District Council. Should you wish to contact the Council yourself, you should write to the Chief Planning Officer, Welwyn Hatfield Council, Council Offices, Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL8 6AE, quoting their reference of S6/0778/99/FP

This Society wishes to object to the above application on these grounds:

1 The site is within the Metropolitan Green Belt and this application must be considered against the policies set out in the Government’s PPG2 and the Welwyn Hatfield District Plan.

2 This type of development is not one which is normally considered for Green Belt land, although we recognise the unique character of the RVC. Other developments bordering on Green Belt land are not permitted to extend on to the Green Belt, and we consider that the RVC have not given a sufficiently strong case as to why they are unable to expand within the boundary of their site which is earmarked as a Major Development Site. The loss of a ‘historic statue - Duncan’s horses’ seems a small price to pay compared with the permanent loss of Green Belt land.

3. The RVC argue against building on the College’s main lawn because it would be at complete variance from planning principles established over the last 40 years. But the same argument applies to building on Green Belt land.

4. While the RVC regret the loss of Green Belt land they argue that:

- this site is not critical to the fundamental purpose of the green belt (to keep settlements apart and to contain their sprawl). We counter-argue that this is exactly what they propose to do. The RVC will be sprawling out of its existing confines and making a ribbon development along Hawkshead Lane. It would only take the removal from the Green Belt of the field on the other side of the railway to join up the Hawkshead settlement with Brookmans Park.

- the development of this site has been under consideration for a long time. We counter-argue that the Green Belt legislation has existed since the Green Space Act 1938, and then the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. If the development has been considered for a long time, why have Green Belt policies apparently been ignored, or minimised.

- the site is bound by a highway, railway, valley and existing buildings… We do not understand the significance in Green Belt terms of this statement.

- the purpose of the development is unique, exceptional and clearly related to its rural/open land context. We counter-argue that most developers would make a similar claim, but accept that the RVC is, indeed, unique.

5 We are extremely concerned at the projected increase in traffic. Hawkshead Lane west of the RVC is totally unsuited to horseboxes and similar large vehicles. We concur that drivers will prefer to arrive at the RVC via the M25/A1M South Mymms junction rather than via Potters Bar. Drivers are already encouraged to travel via the South Mymms junction since the RVC is clearly sign posted along that route. Traffic coming from the Hatfield direction is also likely to prefer coming off the A1000 at the Welham Green roundabout, through Welham Green to Swanland Road and approach the RVC via the narrow twisty western end of Hawkshead Lane.

If any further development of the RVC is to be permitted, we strongly urge that a dedicated internal drive is built from the RVC buildings to Warrengate Road, bypassing Hawkshead Lane completely. An increase in RVC traffic from about 37 vehicles a day in 1999 to about 130 when the expansion is completed would make this lane even more hazardous that it is now.

6 The RVC say that worn out buildings will be replaced by this new development. If the replaced buildings are on Green belt land, and the footprints are similar, this might influence our position.

November 13, 1999


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