Plotlands For Sale In Digswell

24th June 2020

Our letter to the planning department at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

Dear Mr. Haigh,

Potential Plot-land Development, Digswell Park Road

We are writing to advise you of potential plot-land development on the fields between Digswell Park Road and Hertford Road. The land in question is pasture land to the north of Digswell Park Road, within the Green Belt and immediately adjacent to the Grade II* listed Digswell Viaduct. Earlier this year the landowner entered into a contract to sell this land (and allegedly the adjoining field to the south of Digswell Park Road). The land has subsequently been subdivided into plots, of which three have been sold and the remainder due for auction on 23 June. The purchaser, Country Land Conservation, a company registered in Ireland, state on their website that “Our main objectives with pasture and arable land once acquired is returning them to wildflower meadows. We do have finances to compete with other developers who would look to acquire rural sites for development. The CLC’s actions with these pieces of lands can vary, the main importance would be to halt a possibility for development.” Consequently, it is puzzling that their agent is now advertising the plots as “the parcels offer an excellent opportunity for a number of potential uses along with future potential for development. These details provide a computer-generated impression of how the development of a house could look.”

This is a clear suggestion to potential buyers that the land has residential potential which, under both the National Planning Policy Framework and the current and emerging Welwyn Hatfield Local Plans, it does not. Any development on this site would significantly damage the setting of Digswell Viaduct and under Section 16 of the NFFP the Council has a duty to conserve sites and buildings of historic value and obligations under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, in respect to decision-making on such sites.

From past experience we know that the first step in development of plot-land sites is the erection of fences to demarcate the individual plots. These fences inevitably impact on the openness of the Green Belt and, in this case, the setting of the listed structure. They also frustrate the best long term management and attractiveness of the land by its fragmentation and the interests of biodiversity. An article four direction could control this by removing permitted development rights for the erection of fencing under Class A of Part 2 of Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order 2015. Given the patchwork of harm we would also encourage the Council to take control over permitted development rights for the temporary use of land (Class B Part 4) and for the creation of an access (Class B of Part 2). Consequently we urge you to undertake all steps necessary to prevent the erection of fences and other damaging alterations and to protect this pasture land from future proposed residential development.

We should be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this letter by replying to office@cpreherts.org.uk

Yours sincerely,

David Irving for CPRE Hertfordshire

Site of potential 'plotlands' speculative development in the Green Belt at Digswell Eliza Hermann