Council begins consultation after issuing Article 4 Direction

The council has announced its intention to protect important employment space in Welwyn Hatfield by issuing an Article 4 Direction.

Hatfield Business Park

The Article 4 Direction requires a year's notice so will come into force on 12 October 2020,subject to a consultation process, and covers strategically important office sites in the borough, removing permitted development rights that currently allow office buildings to be converted for residential use without planning permission.

The sites protected by the Article 4 Direction include:

· Welwyn Garden City employment area

· Hatfield Business Park (including Bishop Square)

· Beaconsfield Road and Great North Road in Hatfield

· Sopers Road Industrial Estate in Cuffley

The move follows concerns raised by the council about the amount of employment space lost in the borough, with some 27,000sqm of office space converted for residential use since 2013.

Office to residential conversions do not require any provision for affordable housing, or the Section 106 contributions usually agreed through the planning process towards infrastructure, education and healthcare.

Councillor Stephen Boulton, Executive Member for Environment and Planning, said: "While we understand that new homes are required, for Welwyn Hatfield to continue to thrive we must also retain good quality employment space for business.

"Issuing this Article 4 Direction will help us find the right balance. I hope residents will respond to the consultation and let us know their views on the proposal."

The consultation will run until 21 November. To take part in the consultation or for more details, go to www.welhat.gov.uk/a4d