The Borough Council will be consulting on whether Panshanger should be included in the local plan from mid January to March 2015.
We will need your input to this and will have the final documents and guidelines on how to object on this website and panshangerpepole.org.uk, from mid January,
Since October, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council have been discussing what their Local plan for 2011-2031 will include. In a series of meetings of the Cabinet Housing and Planning Panel (all of which Panshanger People have attended), the council officers have presented their information and conclusions. The main document presented by them in October addressing the possible sites to be built on is here. In this document they announced that their assessed housing requirements in the borough had increased to 12,500 (from 7,200). They then divided the sites outside urban areas as “more favourable”, “finely balanced” and “less favourable”. Panshanger was deemed to be “finely balanced” in part due to all the local opposition. This document was largely accepted by the committee at the time.
Then on December 11th, the same committee were asked to recommend the documents to the Cabinet (another group of councillors that oversee the other committees) for final publication to go to public consultation. Near the end of this meeting, it was announced by the chairman, that they would only be putting forward the “more favourable” sites for consultation even though these sites would not be nearly enough to meet the 12,500 figure. He also announced that Panshanger was to be re-classified as “more favourable”. Both these decisions were made despite the officers recommendations and with no discussion from the committee. The reasons given were that it was not greenbelt, but safeguarded lands and it was not an airfield. This last point was quickly and roundly addressed in a letter from the GAAC, reminding them that they are wrong and that without a change in planning permission, the airfield is still an airfield. The changes were obviously decided by the majority Conservative councillors (lobbied by Mariposa) prior to the meeting– a trick they have used on several other occasions – and will lead to a consultation that is a waste of time, taxpayers money and should be found unsound by any planning inspector.
On December 17th, the (all conservative) cabinet waived all these decisions through, although they met with very vocal and recriminatory responses from the audience present. More details can be found on www.panshangerpeople.org.uk.
Here is the practical difference between the October plans and the new plans – a distribution which is very similar to what they consulted on two years ago, despite their assertions that they would spread the housing around the Borough more this time. They obviously haven’t listened at all.
Welcome to Save Panshanger Airfield
The Closure and the next stage of the story
Mariposa Investments Limited, the owners of the Panshanger site have decided that they would not renew the lease to the North London Flying school ended on September 21st 2014. Following the sad demise in March of Dame Phyllis Somers - the widow of Nat Somers, the original owner of the site since 1953 - the trustees have decided to push for housing on the site.
The Mariposa trustees have become impatient waiting for the local plan to be decided and will be putting in a planning proposal to Welwyn Hatfield Council. This is separate from the local plan and will probably be decided before the local plan is finalised. To facilitate this application, they are going ahead with soil surveys and site preparation including destroying the WWII buildings. This is a scare tactic, because there is no certainty they will receive planning permission for housing (at least not if we can help it!) If permission is refused, it will be on the basis that an airfield is more important in this location than housing and the planning status of an airfield will remain, so the aerodrome could be reinstated.
Panshanger People with the support of the local and the aviation community will continue to campaign for its removal from the local plan and the reinstallation of an airfield here. The site is in an ideal location for a GA airfield with good transport links to North London and Hertfordshire and has remained buoyant throughout the recession. There are almost no airfields in the crowded South East which are not under planning pressures and if they disappear one by one, due to the short sighted action of local councils and the greed of land owners, GA in this country will die. Under more enlightened ownership and with visionary local planners, the airfield could support several small aviation related businesses as well as the flying school and provide additional transport options for local businesses. A significant asset to Welwyn Garden City.
We Need Your Money
We have commissioned work from Planning experts to help put our case to the local council and will certainly need more professional help in the future, all of which costs money. So please help us Save Panshanger for the future by donating to our funds on the Contact us page. The work we have already commissioned cost £9600 and that is just the start.
Local Plan consultation and the Mariposa planning proposal.
Welwyn Hatfield Council will be holding another consultation on the local plan in January 2015 this year at which people will be able to submit comments. We will post guidelines about the key issues to comment on in, so please sign up to our members email list and we will alert you directly. We want to make sure every comment is relevant and tells the council exactly why they shouldn’t build houses on the airfield site. We also want to demonstrate that the site has a commercial future as a thriving airfield and is an economic and social asset for Welwyn Garden City.
The Mariposa Planning proposal will also need to go out to consultation and we will need your help to oppose this too. It is possible that the proposal will go through at the same time as the local plan consultation, so we may have to ask you to comment on both at once.