An analysis of office to housing conversions not needing planning permission undertaken by WHBC's planners makes for worrying reading. In just 18 months, over 18,000 square metres of office space has been lost - around 1800 job spaces. Add in the planned Xerox site and it becomes 35,000 square metres - around 3500 jobs. All in just 18 months.
"Of course many of these might have been granted permission, but that permission would have been accompanied by checking there was adequate parking, amenity space for families, and some contribution towards school places and infrastructure" said LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan.
"Already planners are talking about having to replace this employment land, perhaps in the Green Belt.
"In a town built on the principle of keeping jobs and homes apart, this is a worrying trend that in a few years could wipe out much of our office space. Homes are usually worth more than offices, so the incentive to keep converting is there, particularly when there are minimal checks or restrictions.
I hope that now the evidence is piling up, Grant Shapps will see that the effects on Welwyn Hatfield demand a change in policy."