Members of the Brookmans Park Residents Association attended the North Mymms Parish Council Annual Parish meeting on Thursday 9th April, to hear Councillor John Dean speak about Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council's Core Strategy, due to be published for public consultation early autumn 2014.
Attendees heard that central Government has given WHBC a non-negotiable target of 16,000 new homes to be built in the district by 2029. This target has been increased from the 7,000 originally envisaged a year ago, and also from the 10,000 - 12,000 that WHBC thought was the final figure only a few weeks ago. WHBC has managed to identify brownfield and infill land enough for 3,000 new homes, leaving the balance of 13,000 to be built on Green Belt land across the district.
The Government target for Hertfordshire is now the third-highest of all the shire counties in the country.
John Dean added that when Welhat submit their plans to Government Inspectors, they must conform to 1) a test of 'soundness' (ie they must show 16,000 new homes planned for and land identified)
2) a duty to co-operate (with other districts and boroughs)
If a council's plan is found 'unsound' by Government Inspectors, the Inspectors will invite developers to approach Eric Pickles office direct with their plans, which will be given immediate approval. Therefore it is in the councils' and their residents' best interests to produce a 'sound' plan, which will at least keep a measure of control. John Dean added that in Welhat it would be advisable to designate a small amount around each community with community agreement, then with a sustainable and sound plan accepted, the developers could be kept at bay.