Birchall Garden Suburb (BGS) is a proposed residential development that will become a sustainable extension to the south-east of Welwyn Garden City. The proposal will draw upon the best of town and country living to create a thriving new place and community, supported by extensive new infrastructure.
The concept for the site has been carefully shaped over the past 12 years in consultation with the local community and a broad range of technical and political stakeholders. It will see the 222-hectare (around 549 acres) area transformed with a range of high-quality new homes and extensive facilities that reflect a modern interpretation of Sir Ebenezer Howard’s well-established Garden City principles, upon which the development is based. These principles will be captured within a site-wide design code that will guide all future planning applications at BGS.
The development will deliver 2,650 much-needed homes across East Hertfordshire District Council and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. BGS will offer a diverse mix of housing types and tenures – including rental and shared ownership - to meet the urgent local requirement for affordable homes, as well as properties for families, first-time buyers and older people. Options for custom-build and self-build plots will also be provided.
The BGS vision is to create a new, integrated neighbourhood, whose residents – as well as those already living in the local area - can access a range of essential amenities - including local shops and services, three schools, space for healthcare, play areas, and recreation spaces - within a short 15-minute walk or a cycle journey. 15-minute neighbourhoods are a well-established concept, and at BGS it will help to build more connected, vibrant neighbourhoods with a stronger sense of community, better health and wellbeing, lower transport emissions, and better air quality.
Sustainability is a key focus for BGS – both in terms of the homes and development, as well as for the long-term health and wellbeing of the new and existing community. The development will benefit from significant new cycle and walking routes, and the homes will be constructed to the latest building regulations. There will also be electric vehicle charging points, as well as connections into the existing and planned local public transport network, including a potential hub for the proposed Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit (HERT), which will reduce reliance on cars.
As well as providing homes and community facilities, BGS will create extensive open spaces, and make a substantial contribution to biodiversity and green infrastructure in the area, with links for wildlife and improved access for the public across an area that currently has limited public access.
Footpaths and green corridors will link the site into extensive new parkland at the centre of the site, which will make up around half of the site and link Welwyn Garden City into this huge new area of outdoor public green space. The parkland - Birchall Common - will be over 76 hectares (188 acres)– around twice the size of Stanborough Park.
Unlike applications for piecemeal housing developments , BGS is a strategically planned site that has been created holistically over the past 12 years within a comprehensive masterplan, and shaped in close consultation with the local community and a range of stakeholders.
It enables the project to deliver critical new infrastructure to support the new homes, while mitigating impacts, ensuring that improvements are delivered in their entirety, and that benefits are maximised for local people. This includes a once-in-a-century new central parkland that will deliver a net gain in terms of open space and biodiversity. To ensure the continuation of this incredible asset for generations to come, BGS will be supported by a high-quality and comprehensive land stewardship plan, which will see the open spaces managed for the benefit of the community – and working alongside the community – to create a beautiful long-term legacy, irrespective of site ownership.
Sir Ebenezer Howard OBE (1850-1928) was an English urban planner and founder of the garden city movement, known for his publication To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898).
It described a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together with nature, and resulted in the founding of the garden city movement. The first garden city, Letchworth Garden City, began in 1903, followed by Welwyn Garden City in 1920.
Howard aimed to reduce the alienation of humans and society from nature, and hence advocated garden cities. He is held as one of the leading figures in the town planning movement, with many of his garden city principles being used in modern town planning.
If you are interested in finding out more about Garden Cities, you can visit The International Garden Cities Institute website.
Planning application overview
We are submitting an application for the entire Birchall Garden Suburb site – we will provide an update on timescales for this in the near future. The proposed development will create a sustainable and natural extension to Welwyn Garden City and will offer:
- 222-hectares (549 acres) transformed into a new Garden Suburb
- More than 80 hectares (200 acres) of land for a new community of 2,650 new homes located as an extension to Welwyn Garden City and its facilities
- A diverse range of sizes of homes for first-time buyers, families and older people
- Affordable housing of all tenures – including rental and shared ownership options
- Two neighbourhood centres, providing community facilities, such as new community centres, space for healthcare facilities, local shops & services
- 3 new schools – two primary and one secondary – delivering a net gain in school places to support the needs of the wider area
- New sports pitches and new children’s play areas
- More than 5 miles of new pedestrian walkways and cycle routes, including safe routes to schools from residential areas
- Superfast broadband connection to each front door
- Two new neighbourhood centres, providing new community centres, local shops and services
Environmental, health and wellbeing
- Around 113 hectares (280 acres) of new open spaces for woodland, wildlife habitats, recreation and allotments – of which over 76 hectares (188 acres) will be new parkland, which will be supported a high-quality land stewardship plan, which will see the open spaces managed for the benefit of the community to create a beautiful legacy
- Wildlife corridors and new habitats
- Space for healthcare
- Over 5 miles of pedestrian walkways and cycle routes throughout and across the site
- A network of electric vehicle charging points
- Public transport connections, including a potential hub for the Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit project
- Local highway improvements
- Improvements to Moneyhole Lane Park