To preserve the look and feel of the Parish, with particular importance being given to the protection of the Green Belt surrounding it, to prevent erosion of the Parish’s character by urban sprawl.
The location of our parish is a crucial factor - central to our deliberations on potential development sites to meet its future housing needs. Part of the Parish, and its immediate surrounding rural area, is designated Green Belt land, the fundamental aim of which is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open. It serves five purposes:
The NPPF provides that, once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in “exceptional circumstances”, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan. At that time, regard should be given to their intended permanence in the long term, beyond the period of the Plan, and of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development. Inappropriate development of Green Belt land should not be approved except in “very special circumstances” – which will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.
Wymondley Parish in its entirety does not fall within the Green Belt. Great Wymondley, Todds Green, Titmore Green and Redcoats Green are all within the Green Belt. Little Wymondley is classed as a Category A village, i.e. its built core is outside, (but surrounded by), Green Belt land - as shown on the map below, which also indicates its settlement boundary. Great Wymondley is classed as a Category B village - where infilling that does not extend the built core of the village into the surrounding countryside may be allowed.
The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts – as do the Wymondley parishioners, illustrated by 92% of our survey respondents indicating that they objected to any development on Green Belt land within or surrounding the Parish. It is clearly the primary issue of concern to Wymondley parishioners, and one which significantly influenced our development proposals.
We strongly support those elements of the Government’s Green Belt policy which are particularly relevant to our parish, given its close proximity to the nearby towns of Hitchin and Stevenage, i.e. designating land as Green Belt purposely to prevent the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas; prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another; and assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment.
The following map clearly illustrates how close Little Wymondley, (being the main settlement of our parish), is to the neighbouring towns, and therefore how vulnerable our parish is to having its individuality obliterated by urban sprawl.
The NPPF states that a local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt, but there are exceptions to this:
Certain other forms of development are also not inappropriate in Green Belt provided they preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in Green Belt. These are:
Preservation of the Parish’s Green Belt land is fundamental to the quality of life enjoyed by residents of the Parish. It acts as a protective barrier, shielding the settlements from being swallowed up by urban sprawl from Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth; and by the same token protecting the historic character and heritage of the Parish – particularly around Great Wymondley. It affords residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy the appearance and feel of rural village environments and small communities. The essence of what draws people to live in such environments as ours.
Policy GB1: We will work positively with stakeholders to ensure that development proposals impacting on Wymondley Parish comply with Government Green Belt policy; and that primary consideration is given to effective use of brown-field sites which are not of high environmental value.
Policy GB2: We will work positively with stakeholders to ensure that development proposals do not impact negatively on Wymondley Parish - particularly in terms of visual impact on the openness of the Green Belt landscape and its important contribution to the character of our villages/hamlets.
Policy GB3: Where we believe Government Green Belt policy has not been complied with, we will robustly challenge any proposals to change our Green Belt boundaries or to build on Green Belt land in or near to Wymondley Parish.
Little Wymondley shown within the Greenbelt
Little Wymondley, showing its position within the Green Belt between Hitchin and Stevenage