Ellenbrook Park Trust

Subject: Ellenbrook Park and Trust

Dear All,

This email is being sent to you to provide a further update on the ongoing discussions between Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC), St Albans District Council (SADC), Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) and Arlington regarding the Ellenbrook Park and associated Section 106 obligations. We apologise for the delay in providing this update, however this has been due to detailed work being carried out on the legal position since the last update, and the need to agree a robust stance in common between the three councils.   

As you are probably aware, these discussions are taking place against a background where a public inquiry was held at the end of 2021 into an appeal against HCC’s refusal of an application by Brett Aggregates for mineral extraction on a substantial part of the Ellenbrook Park site. The Planning Inspector who conducted that inquiry subsequently dismissed Brett’s appeal, however Brett had already submitted a revised planning application to HCC for similar but modified works, and this application remains under consideration by HCC. Whilst the second application will take some time to resolve, the three councils (WHBC, SADC and HCC) will continue to work in the meantime to obtain full delivery of the Ellenbrook Park from Arlington to the Ellenbrook Trust under the terms of the existing Section 106 agreement or subject to a suitable Deed of Variation as previously discussed.

Towards the end of 2021, the three councils sought legal advice from Queen’s Counsel and undertook a site visit with Arlington representatives which led to a letter being sent to Arlington on 9th March 2022. This set out the councils’ position that the key obligations concerning delivery of the Park and Trust under the original S106 agreement remain enforceable, that a Landscape Management Document needs to be formally agreed by the councils, and that a Deed of Variation will be necessary in order to work any minerals on the land, even if planning permission is granted by HCC on the second Brett application or on any subsequent application or appeal.

Arlington have replied to this letter, with their response being received on 13th April. They accept much of the position set out in the councils’ letter, including that the Landscape Management Document should be finalised and should include proposals to complete any establishment works that are agreed to be outstanding from the original s106 agreement. They propose that the initial lease to the Trust would include all of the Park outside the proposed minerals area. Arlington continue to seek a phased approach to the completion of outstanding establishment works and the granting of a lease to the Trust on the land subject to the minerals application, to allow for extraction and restoration in phases over the period of implementation of any minerals permission which may yet be granted, and to prevent any new landscape establishment works from being undone in the near future. They accept the need for a backstop provision to deliver any outstanding establishment works and to lease the minerals area to the Trust in the event that no planning permission for mineral extraction is forthcoming within a reasonable period. Arlington seek a meeting initially with officers of the three councils to discuss and agree a way forward to include a Deed of Variation.

The three councils will now consider the contents of the Arlington letter in detail and take appropriate legal advice, after which it is hoped to arrange a meeting between officers of the three councils and Arlington for later this month. In the meantime, the councils will continue with the process of setting up the Trust, and each of the prospective local authority Trust members has been asked to nominate a representative to the Trust for 2022-23 at their Annual Council meeting in anticipation of the Trust’s formation.

As previously made clear to Arlington, the three councils believe, on the basis of legal advice obtained, that the positive provisions of the 2000 agreement concerning the delivery of the Park and handover to the Trust are still enforceable and will be pursued in event of failure to reach agreement within a reasonable period on a Deed of Variation.

Thank you for your continued patience as the three councils seek to resolve this process and obtain delivery of the Park to the Ellenbrook Trust. We anticipate that a further update will be provided towards the end of June this year.

Kind regards,

Simon

Simon Chivers MRTPI

Principal Planner – Projects,

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council