WHEAT QUARTER SOUTHSIDE
One of our concerns regarding the most recent application from MTVH is the increase in height of the blocks, and their density. These diagrams illustrate only too clearly the differences when contrasted with the already-approved application. This type of change is typical of increases which will create a mass of densely-packed, high-rise vistas on Broadwater Road and from other areas of the town.
This application breaks all the Welwyn Garden City planning and design rules for keeping buildings to a maximum of five floors high
View the developers justification for High rise flats in WGC
Wheat Quarter Southside The Current Situation
This development is owned and will be managed by Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, who focus on large scale city development.
The current application is for 721 Flats, made up of over 90% 1 or 2 bedroom units. The presented design comprises 8 closed blocks built around a podium, (2 blocks of consented Phase 1 are currently under construction, already exceeding the SPD 5 storey height limits).
Having examined the plans in detail we have a number of serious concerns. These are all based on MTVH failing to meet SPD, Local Plan, National Policy and Quality Design Guidelines. The flaws include;
Excessive density at 250 people per hectare (maximum for all English authorities in 2020 was 167) and increasing the height of blocks up to 10 stories (throughout this site the blocks average over 7 storeys)
There is a small amount of public and resident useable green space This is considered to be an essential ingredient in generating a sense of community and to be able to provide a range of activities that will sustain this area.
Stark in design, looking commercial in style, the design does not align with any other design in our local and conservation areas. There is nothing distinctive or unique about the proposed look.
The small distance between blocks (look for yourself at the current site), will reduce the amount of natural light and increase shaded areas, for a large number of the flats especially where they are single aspect. This has energy usage implications, which at this time is intolerable and unaffordable.
The continuous buildings are sited very close to busy Broadwater Road, allowing no interface or natural break, yet exposing residents to high levels of noise and pollution.
These buildings when added to those in Biopark and Wheat Quarter North, will present a dominating continuous vista along Broadwater Road and dramatically affect the town centre and line of sight.
The recommended mix of housing, usage and type, based on current WelHat Council needs for family accommodation and infrastructure facilities, is being ignored. 1 or 2 bedroom flats will not provide the accommodation necessary for those on the Council waiting list.
There is an inadequate parking provision, based on a very dubious assumption that residents will not use cars. Evidence from other developments runs counter to this conclusion. Parking overflow will add to already existing pressure in Peartree ward and the town centre.
The influx of proposed resident numbers will place a considerable additional strain on infrastructure services, especially as Peartree ward, which is already under considerable pressure. No additional facilities are included!
Given that MTVH have provided no summary of objections or changes resulting from their recent consultations, we can assume they intend to proceed with the current plan to the next application stage. Failure to meet local and national guidelines should automatically produce a stop at this point.
Over 2,000 extra flats squeezed into one area
How will the doctors and schools cope with over 2,000 extra flats?
Parking - 0.7 car spaces per flat is not enough
Wheat Quarter South. The next (third, so far) major planning application in Broadwater Road.
A quick recap: the Wheat Quarter site was approved in 2019. It was split into two, and the South Side (south of Hydeway) is owned by Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, who have started to build. However, they have since applied to go taller and denser and it is this new application which we intend to fight. Sadly we weren't in existence for the first application which we would have fought then.
Over the next few weeks we will post more about this application to help you get more acquainted with it, and our specific concerns.
Meanwhile here is a first look. Note the wall of buildings being proposed along Broadwater Road which would be impenetrable if passed by Council. This site is entirely in opposition to the current design and heritage ethos of WGC.
What do you think?