Welwyn Hatfield’s border to London could shrink to just 1.1km under new housing plans from Enfield Council

Low housing targets in Enfield could put Welwyn Hatfield under “greater pressure” as residents would flee the capital to the Hertfordshire border, a council has said.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council also said that the border – made up of green belt land – between the borough and the London Borough of Enfield would be “significantly” cut from approximately 3.5km to around 1.1km for homes.

Enfield Council is currently preparing a new Local Plan and as part of the consultation period neighbouring councils are invited to provide feedback on the proposals

At this stage of planning Enfield Council are needing to finalise the proposed level of growth and provide a Spatial Strategy, which outlines where this growth will take place.

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The London council is aiming to provide 24,920 new homes over the 15 years between 2024 to 2039, however planning officers at the borough council have warned that could result in an “undersupply of housing” which could lead to more out-migration from the capital.

There had been proposals for around 55,000 new homes within Enfield as the ‘High Growth Option’ but this was not selected by local councillors.

At a meeting of the Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel on Thursday, August 19, borough council officers expressed concerns that the gap in homes provided will lead to more people moving to leaving the capital, putting a greater strain on Hertfordshire councils.

The authority has also raised concerns about one of the potential new sites within the plan, which will see 3,000 homes and associated infrastructure built on the green belt near Crews Hill.

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The borough council has drafted a response to the Enfield authority which says their officers are concerned that Enfield’s housing supply could result in an undersupply, and their Spatial Strategy should reflect the area’s housing requirement in full.

It continues: “As such a lack of supply in the capital will place greater pressure on areas such as Welwyn Hatfield that form part of the wider regional housing market focussed on the capital, as households seek to meet their accommodation needs outside of London.

“Welwyn Hatfield is already having to release substantial areas of land from the Green Belt to meet the need for housing arising in part from current levels of out migration from London.”

The draft response also raised concerns with the proximity of the Crews Hill development and the settlement of Cuffley. It adds: “This Council has serious concerns on the level of harm that will result to the Green Belt as a consequence of this allocation.”

However, Councillor Glyn Hayes (Labour, Hatfield Central) noted that asking Enfield to build more houses within their area could make it harder to oppose the Crews Hill development.

Cllr Hayes said: “Our response also will look to contradict itself to Enfield Borough Council, because we point out perhaps they should use the higher growth option to calculate almost double the housing target they propose, whilst complaining Cuffley will become ever close to coalescing with Crews Hill. As we know with our own OAN [objectively assessed housing need] struggles, the larger the OAN, the homes have to go somewhere.

“No doubt Enfield won’t want 10-storey high buildings either so they have chosen to build on the green belt instead, had they chosen the Standard Method then I fear they’d still have to build on the green belt, probably more so but they would have to build higher too.”

The councillor said he “commended” Enfield councillors for choosing the medium growth option, but said that he feared that a larger target would likely be imposed on the borough, adding, “What I think is becoming clearer each day for everyone is no matter what councillors want for their areas, ultimately, the government inspectors will do their own thing anyway.”

If the Crews Hill development is included in Enfield Borough Council’s draft plan, exceptional circumstances will need to be demonstrated for the building on the green belt and the choice of site before the plan is adopted.

Enfield Borough Council will complete their consultation period, with another consultation period of a draft plan expected in 2022. Final adoption of the plan is not expected until 2024.

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