Just as Welwyn Hatfield faces an Examination in Public into its flawed Local Plan, the government has now announced another vacuous target for house building. The Tories' previous stated aim was to see 200,000 homes built per year, they now want this to be 250,000. Last year (2016/17) only 147,000 were built.
The impact on Welwyn Hatfield is likely to be that instead of needing 800 homes per year across the Borough, we need 877 per year. This in an area where 79% of the land is Green Belt, which the government wants protected into the future. Yet next-door Hertsmere, which has exactly the same proportion of Green Belt land as Welwyn Hatfield, is given a 38% cut in its allocation.
The justification for the increase – compared to the massive cut in nearby Hertsmere – is the high house prices here. Malcolm Cowan, Welwyn Hatfield LibDem group leader says "But absolutely nothing is proposed to help build more affordable homes here – no extra powers, and no money. What we would get would be more 'luxury' homes dragging people in from other parts of the south-east, as more sprawl eats into our precious countryside."
County councillor Nigel Quinton says "We need a joined up approach to building the truly affordable homes we need, and building fully functioning communities, not just more and more executive homes and massive profits for the developers. We have long called for a new garden city in Hertfordshire rather than stretching our existing towns to breaking point. It is time our Council and the Tory government actually addressed the needs of our communities, and stopped pandering to the big developers."