Controversial Walkern housing plan withdrawn

The plot for the proposed development of 105 homes in Walkern.

The plot for the proposed development of 105 homes in Walkern. - Credit: Archant

A planning application to build 105 homes in a village has been withdrawn amid concerns the development would ruin the landscape and put a strain on existing infrastructure.

Welbeck Strategic Land had submitted an outline planning application to East Herts Council for a mix of two, three, four and five-bedroom homes on land to the west of Walkern High Street.

But the council received 160 objections – with people concerned the development would spoil the landscape, cause increased traffic on the already-congested High Street, and leave Walkern Primary School and Walkern Surgery struggling to cope.

Welbeck withdrew its application after EHC’s planning officer recommended permission be refused on the grounds the development would spoil the landscape and fail to integrate with the existing village. Concerns surrounding access, transport, drainage and the impact on existing education provision were also cited.

The planning officer concluded: “Overall, the negative aspects of the proposed development clearly outweigh the provision of housing and affordable housing.”

Alice Brighton, associate director at Welbeck Strategic Land, said: “Since the application was submitted, there has been a material change in the planning context for East Hertfordshire and Walkern. We also acknowledge the case officer’s concerns in his report. Therefore, Welbeck has taken the decision to withdraw the application and properly reflect on these circumstances.”

Walkern Parish Council had objected to the plans and a spokesman said: “Everyone can reflect on a successful collective effort to fight a speculative outline application that sought to maximise profit above all else, and the outcome sends a powerful message to those who may seek to do the same.

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“It was heartening to see the emerging Walkern Neighbourhood Plan being given weight in the decision by East Herts planners to recommend refusal. It is a reminder of the increased protection the plan will give the village once it is adopted.

“The good news is the planning inspector has just approved the Walkern plan and it can now go forward to the final stage of its journey – a village referendum. If the majority of residents vote to approve it, it will be formally adopted and will carry significant weight in responding to speculative mass development proposals.”