Summary to Proof of Evidence - Jonathan Billingsley

H – JB01
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 – Section 77
Call in Inquiry by
Secretary of State
In respect of
an application by
Veolia ES Hertfordshire Limited
for a
Proposed Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility
New Barnfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Appeal Reference:
Local Authority Reference:
6/2570-11 (CM0932)
Summary to Proof of Evidence
On behalf of Hertfordshire County Council
July 2013
Status: Final
Site at New Barnfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Summary Landscape and Visual Evidence
The Landscape Partnership (TLP) were initially appointed by Hertfordshire
County Council (HCC) in January 2008 to advise on the landscape and visual
matters involved in the potential redevelopment of land at New Barnfield for a
Recycling from Energy Facility (RERF).
Since then we have carried out a
number of reviews of a range of documents and materials submitted by Veolia for
the planning application at New Barnfield. This has included the landscape and
visual sections of the Environmental Statement and the Regulation 22 and Non
Regulation 22 materials. In 2013 we also advised HCC on suitable mitigation
proposals within Hatfield House Park and Garden.
The scope of my evidence covers landscape and visual matters relating to the
proposal. Evidence on behalf of HCC relating to Cultural Heritage is given by
Andrew Brown and on Planning by Iain Leech.
The Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment within the ES follows established
best practice as set out in the GLVIA (Second Edition). The methodology used is
generally clear, fair and acceptable.
I consider that the submitted materials
provide a suitable and sufficient basis for assessing the landscape and visual
effects of the proposals.
Findings of TLP Reviews
The TLP reviews of the ES and Regulation 22 Information raised a number of
issues including further information to be provided and aspects to be clarified or
justified by the applicant. The applicant has suitably responded to most of these
points. Some of the outstanding points could be covered by suitable planning
conditions while others are not considered critical to the determination scheme.
B10033/New Barnfield, Hatfield _JB Summary Proof of Evidence_30-7-13
© The Landscape Partnership
Status: Final
Site at New Barnfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Summary Landscape and Visual Evidence
The site description and description of the proposals are set out fully in the
Statement of Common Ground between the Applicants, HCC and Welwyn
Hatfield Borough Council and also in the HCC Committee Report.
The HCC Committee Report sets out at Section 14 the Landscape and Visual
Impacts arising from the proposed development. I am overall in agreement with
the conclusions on landscape and visual matters as set out at paras 14.55- 63
which I consider to be both fair and balanced.
My own conclusions arising from a review of the application materials and my
site visits are as follows. I have aimed to concentrate on the significant effects
arising from the proposed RERF.
The proposed RERF includes a very large building at 41m high and with two
flues that would stand 34m above the top of the main roof. The design approach
is set out in detail in the Design and Access Statement. The main facilities are
included within a single structure in the form of a flattened ovoid dome. The
selected shape has the ability to harmonise with the landscape and the restricted
palette of materials would also assist its fit with the landscape.
I would agree with the view of CABE that the proposal would be ‘an ambitious
and inspiring building and that the bold architecture proposed has the potential to
enhance Travellers Lane and change its character’. This could be considered to
be a positive addition in this context. However, it is also recognised that the
effect from many other viewpoints in the local and wider area may not be
considered beneficial, particularly from residential and amenity receptors due to
the change in visual outlook and character.
The landscape proposals include a considerable amount of hard and soft
landscape works including new native woodland planting and associated bunding
to supplement the retained existing vegetation.
B10033/New Barnfield, Hatfield _JB Summary Proof of Evidence_30-7-13
© The Landscape Partnership
Status: Final
Site at New Barnfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Summary Landscape and Visual Evidence
Direct Landscape Effects
The construction of the scheme will result in the loss of the former Barnfield
School buildings and associated grass amenity areas, ornamental trees and
shrubs. There would be a loss of part of a mature tree line adjacent to Travellers
Lane and further trees around the pond near the site entrance. I consider these
effects to be at most Moderate significant adverse in the context of the overall
Landscape character effects
The effect on Landscape Character Area 29: Mimshall Valley which occupies
part of the site is considered to involve a Medium-High magnitude of change.
This would result in a Moderate adverse effect on landscape character at
Construction and Year 1 reducing to Moderate magnitude and Minor Moderate
by Year 15. There are not considered to be any significant effects on other
Landscape Character Areas outside Area 29.
There would be some locally significant Landscape Character effects on areas
close to the site up to c. 600m distance. The areas most affected are L2 –
Welham Green Residential (Medium-High magnitude of change) Area L3 –
Urban Fringe – Welham Green (High magnitude of change) and L4 – Urban
Fringe South Hatfield (High and Medium to High magnitude of change).
Overall the most significant effects on Landscape Character would be within
c. 600m of the site and on the urban fringe areas of South Hatfield and Welham
Green between A1001, Pooleys Lane and the Travellers Lane Industrial Area.
The effects would be most noticeable and fragmented during construction.
Thereafter the main operational activities would be generally screened from the
adjacent areas. The main residual effect would therefore be the presence of the
large domed form and flues. This would give rise to Moderate harm overall to the
local rural-urban fringe character.
Visual Effects
There would be significant visual effects on a number of local receptors in the
immediate and wider area.
B10033/New Barnfield, Hatfield _JB Summary Proof of Evidence_30-7-13
© The Landscape Partnership
Status: Final
Site at New Barnfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Summary Landscape and Visual Evidence
Rights of way
A number of the most noticeable effects are from local rights of way. Most of the
significant effects on rights of way are within 3-400m of the site. In these views it
is the distinctive domed form of the main RERF building that is most visible. The
built form is generally visually grounded by the presence of intervening
vegetation but the upper part and the flues are clearly visible. The effects are
most extensive to the south and west with open views from rights of way, over
paddocks and open fields.
Significant effects extend to c. 2km, e.g. off Bradmore Lane to the south.
However, the number of locations where there are notable views at more than
1km are relatively limited due to the existing pattern of the landscape character.
Residential locations
The most significant effects on residential locations are from the south and north
within 5-600m. There would be a number of views from the northern edge of
Welham Green, particularly for properties on Parsonage Road, Pooleys Lane
and Dellsome Lane.
Some of these would experience a High magnitude of
change and would experience a significant Major/Moderate adverse visual effect.
Further significant effects but generally of relatively less magnitude would be
experienced by a number of properties within South Hatfield, including those at
Millwards, Far End, Brickfield, Northdown Road and Southdown Road. From this
orientation visibility of the RERF is more fragmented due to the combination of
the pattern of urban form and screening by intervening vegetation.
Community and Recreational facilities
There would also be a number of significant effects from Hatfield Cemetery,
Acacia Road playing fields and Millwards Recreation Ground.
There would be a significant visual impact on Southfield School. This would
include a Major/Moderate visual effect on the playing fields, playground and parts
of the classrooms facing south west.
B10033/New Barnfield, Hatfield _JB Summary Proof of Evidence_30-7-13
© The Landscape Partnership
Status: Final
Site at New Barnfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Summary Landscape and Visual Evidence
Effects from main and local roads are generally restricted to a limited number of
locations. The closest views are from the roundabout on the A1001 and the
approach along Travellers Lane.
The introduction of the RERF from the
reconfigured Travellers Lane would introduce a substantial magnitude of change.
However the design of the RERF and associated landscape proposals would be
compatible with the context of the Travellers Lane Industrial Area to the east.
More distant views from main roads include from the A1000 at c. 2km distance.
From here the RERF would be intermittently visible between hedgerow trees
travelling north west. Other views from main roads are not considered to be
Heritage assets
Hatfield Park and Garden, the Old Palace and Hatfield Hall lie with 400m-2.1km
to the north east. In visual terms the winter view from the new visitor car park
indicates that only the upper section of the dome and flue would be in part visible
through the tracery of vegetation on the intervening local ridge. I consider the
visual effect from the car park to be of Moderate/Minor significance.
From the West Garden there is a view from one section of the garden. I consider
this to be of Moderate magnitude in the winter months reducing to low in
summer. This would give rise to a Major-Moderate adverse effect in winter from
this localised view reducing to Moderate in summer. Other views in the west
garden are unlikely to be significant. It should be noted that there are a number
of existing young and semi-mature lime trees within the wider garden which will
mature over the next few years to screen this view.
There would also be a Low to Medium magnitude effect on part of the grounds
near the former walled gardens giving rise to a Major-Moderate adverse and
significant effect.
North Mymms Park lies c. 2km to the south west of the site. The house and
grounds are currently in the ownership of GlaxoSmithKline and there is no public
B10033/New Barnfield, Hatfield _JB Summary Proof of Evidence_30-7-13
© The Landscape Partnership
Status: Final
Site at New Barnfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Summary Landscape and Visual Evidence
In most of the views from the house and garden the RERF would be screened by
mature trees in the park and gardens. However, from the north west elevation of
the house, near the drive and from the north parterre there would be a partial,
albeit distant, view to the flues set just above and between the tree line. The
effect would be a Low magnitude effect on a High sensitive receptor giving rise to
a Minor-Moderate adverse effect. Views from the two public footpaths in the
wider parkland would experience no greater magnitude of change.
Visibility of the plume
A plume of condensed water vapour that would be emitted from the RERF for a
minority of the time in day-time and night-time hours. The presence of the plume
would result in further visual effects at certain times of year.
However, the
appearance of the plume would be transitory in nature, temporal in presence and
of a colour similar to natural clouds. There may be occasions where the plume
may appear in views where the flues and/or dome are not visible. While there
may be some occasions when the plume could result in temporal significant
visual effects, it is not considered that these effects in themselves would result in
unacceptable significant impacts in visual terms.
The lighting of the RERF would introduce an additional presence of the facility at
night time and at periods of dawn and dusk. Lighting around the working areas
at base of the RERF is visible yet not intrusive. The most prominent features are
the red warning lightings to the flues which would be an additional adverse and
significant effect on a number of viewpoints within c 1km and would be noticeable
beyond this for some distance.
HCC acknowledged in the Committee Report that there would be some impacts
(in heritage terms) arising from the proposed RERF on Hatfield House, the Old
Palace and the Registered Park and Garden. HCC set out in their Statement of
Case the intention to develop offsite mitigation planting proposals with a view to
include this planting within the Section 106 obligation required from the
B10033/New Barnfield, Hatfield _JB Summary Proof of Evidence_30-7-13
© The Landscape Partnership
Status: Final
Site at New Barnfield, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Summary Landscape and Visual Evidence
Following a site visit in April 2013 TLP developed a mitigation planting scheme
on behalf of HCC to provide mitigation of the RERF from Hatfield House and
Park and Garden. The intention was to be reasonable and proportionate in the
scope of offsite planting indicated to mitigate the effects of the RERF.
Following a review of the viewpoints in the Park and Garden identified within the
Barton Willmore Blimp Assessment and other publically accessible points within
the Park, four areas were identified as having the potential for offsite planting.
These included Area A – The Wilderness, Areas B and C – East and north of the
Walled Garden and Area D – Plantation north west of Millwards Wood.
The above proposals were sent to Gascoyne Cecil Estate and English Heritage
by HCC. A reply was received from the Estate in which they stated that: ‘we are
not able, nor willing, to discuss these proposals whilst we object to the scheme.’
Due to the lack of any constructive response from the Gascoyne Cecil Estate to
date the matter has not been taken forward any further.
However, it is not
considered that this planting is necessary to make the RERF acceptable in
landscape and visual planning terms.
The proposed RERF would result in a number of significant adverse landscape
and visual effects. These should be counted against the scheme as part of the
planning balance.
However, the scheme design and proposed mitigation
provides a well considered approach to mitigate the scheme. The imposition of
suitable planning conditions should be able to further refine the scheme design to
mediate its effects. Overall, it is not considered that the adverse effects are
unacceptable in landscape and visual terms.
B10033/New Barnfield, Hatfield _JB Summary Proof of Evidence_30-7-13
© The Landscape Partnership