Hatfield Aerodrome Site


14.1 The Hatfield Aerodrome site is the biggest area of redundant industrial land in Hertfordshire. Following the closure of the British Aerospace aircraft manufacturing plant in 1993 and the closure of the associated runway in 1994, the future use of the site has been determined through the Local Plan process and then in more detail through a masterplanning exercise.

14.2 A masterplan for the site was adopted by Welwyn Hatfield Council in November 1999. This masterplan, and any subsequently adopted revisions, will provide the detailed guidance for determining planning applications for the redevelopment of the site in future years.

14.3 This section of the Plan sets out the key principles for the site's development, lays down the primary matters to be covered by any masterplan for the site, and confirms the current land use allocations for the site, as defined on Inset Map 3 of the Proposals Map.


14.4 The Hatfield Aerodrome site extends to some 322 hectares (800 acres). Located on the western edge of Hatfield, the majority of the site lies within Welwyn Hatfield District. However, at the southern end of the site, some 56 hectares (140 acres) falls within St.Albans District. This Plan therefore excludes those proposals of the masterplan which are within St.Albans District. In addition the Green Belt boundary effectively divides the site, with 188 hectares of the site being designated as Green Belt, as shown on Inset Map 3.

14.5 The site is generally flat and due to the presence of the former runway has few significant areas of trees apart from the southern boundary of the site and Home Covert, which is an area of Ancient Woodland found in the Green Belt part of the site.

14.6 The recently developed areas of the Hatfield Business Park and Bishops Square border the site to the north west and south east respectively. The land to the north of Hatfield Avenue was used for industrial purposes, and associated sports ground and informal open space. The land to the south of Hatfield Avenue was the location for the aircraft manufacturing plant and associated runway. In overall terms the Inset area, excluding the Green Belt, is considered to be previously developed land.

14.7 There are a number of Listed Buildings on the site. Within Welwyn Hatfield District these comprise: -

  • The Flight Test Hanger - Grade 2*

  • The Administration Building, Canteen and Gatehouse - Grade 2

  • Astwick Manor - Grade 2

14.8 The majority of the area of the Masterplan site within the Green Belt is identified within the Hertfordshire Minerals Local Plan as a Preferred Area for Mineral Extraction. The site is identified in the Hertfordshire County Council Waste Local Plan as an Area of Search for the siting of permanent facilities for materials recovery. An opportunity for a Material Recovery Facility is identified within the Business Area on the Hatfield Aerodrome site in the Section 106 Agreement accompanying the outline planning permission. It is also part of the Watling Chase Community Forest as defined within the District Plan and the Community Forest Plan.

Strategy and Objectives

14.9 The objectives for the development of the site have evolved over many years. These reflect local concerns which have been identified through public consultation on both the District Plan and the masterplan. They also reflect national, regional and other strategic planning policy as it applies generally to new development and the specific considerations of development in this location. The list of objectives is as follows:

  1. The development should be sustainable.

  2. The site should provide employment including an element to meet local needs.

  3. The site should provide land for housing including an element to meet local needs.

  4. The site should provide scope for the presence of the University of Hertfordshire.

  5. The development should be well integrated with Hatfield and surrounding towns, with good pedestrian, cycle and public transport links.

  6. The development should contain an aero-based heritage facility.

  7. The development should provide high standards of environment, open space and leisure facilities.

  8. The retention and provision of social and community facilities should be achieved.

  9. The Green Belt should be enhanced and made more accessible. The Green Belt boundary will remain fixed.


Sustainable Development of the Site

14.10 Within the context of Central Government Policy, regional policy and the policies of the approved County Structure Plan, the redevelopment of such an important and large site such as the Hatfield Aerodrome, must be led by principles of sustainability. This should apply to all aspects of the development, starting from the overall mix of uses, through the construction processes, to the detailed layout and design of individual buildings and parcels of open land and landscaping.

14.11 Sustainability principles have been used to guide the preparation of the currently adopted masterplan for the site. The masterplan was subject to a Sustainability Appraisal during its preparation. It is critical that in any subsequent revision of the masterplan the same principles apply.

14.12 The principles and sustainability tests established during that process were subsequently incorporated into the masterplan, and will be used in order to assess whether individual planning applications for development of the site meet those sustainability objectives.

Policy HATAER1 - Sustainable Development of the Site

The development of the whole of the Inset Area will be based on the principles of sustainability. This will apply to all aspects of the development including layout, mix of uses, orientation and design of buildings, energy efficiency and the need to provide an integrated transport system. The sustainability tests and principles which were developed to assess the content of the Hatfield Aerodrome masterplan, will be used to assess whether individual planning applications are in conformity with this policy.

Mixed Use

14.13 One of the key principles of sustainable land use planning is the juxtaposition of housing with employment and community services, in order to afford the maximum opportunity for trips to be made on foot, bicycle or on public transport. This objective of creating mixed-use developments is emphasised in particular in PPG1 and PPG13, together with other Government Guidance on sustainable development.

14.14 The Hatfield Aerodrome site is of a scale where it is possible to achieve a true mix of development, notwithstanding the site's strategic role for employment development. Creating a mixed-use development is therefore a primary objective for the site.

14.15 One of the components of the mixed-use development of the site is the new campus for the University of Hertfordshire. The university is a major factor in the local economy, and the new campus has enabled the university to consolidate in Hatfield, whilst also meeting some of the deficiencies of the existing campus in terms of facilities and residential accommodation.

14.16 However, given the site's location on the western edge of Hatfield, and the need to protect and enhance the vitality of the existing Town Centre and the Galleria shopping complex, this site is not considered suitable for retail development, other than that to meet the local needs of people living or working on the site.

Policy HATAER2 - Mixed Use

The redevelopment of the Hatfield Aerodrome Inset Site, outside the Green Belt, should provide for a variety of land uses. The principal uses of the site will be for employment, housing and educational purposes, in the form of a new university campus. Other uses and proposals, including aviation heritage, community facilities, leisure and sports facilities, public open space and securing public access to the Green Belt, will also form an integral part of the development. Any retail and leisure development shall be located within the local centre for the site and will be limited in scale to that necessary to meeting local needs.

Requirement for a Masterplan

14.17 Given the scale and complexity of the redevelopment of the Hatfield Aerodrome site, there is a need for both detailed guidance in terms of what development will be acceptable, how development and the provision of facilities and infrastructure will be co-ordinated, and specific design guidance to ensure a high quality environment is achieved. In a development of this scale there is also a need to clearly set out the basis for establishing the range and content of planning obligations. It is not the role of the District Plan to provide such detailed guidance. The role of the District Plan should be to set out the guiding principles that will govern the development of the site, both during and beyond this Plan period.

14.18 The more detailed level of guidance required is best provided in the form of a masterplan for the site. In order to give weight to the masterplan and to ensure that there is a clear and consistent approach taken to individual planning applications for development of the site, it will be a requirement of the District Plan that the masterplan for the site be adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance, as set out in PPG12.

14.19 In order to be effective the guidance should:

  1. Set out in detail the sustainable principles and tests which will be used to assess all development on the site;

  2. Clarify the quantum of development and use of each part of the site;

  3. Identify the infrastructure required to service the specified quantum of development;

  4. Ensure that the site is designed in a cohesive and comprehensive manner;

  5. Identify key elements of phasing of the development of the site;

  6. Set out the key design principles which set the overall quality of design;

  7. Give specific guidance on the form development will take within each sub-area of the site;

  8. Identify clearly those matters for which development contributions will be sought.

14.20 As PPG12 sets out, in order for the status of Supplementary Planning Guidance to be achieved, any guidance must be subject to public consultation. The masterplan will also be prepared jointly by the relevant landowners and the Local Planning Authorities.

14.21 Whilst the first masterplan for the site has been prepared and was adopted by the Local Planning Authorities in November 1999, it is recognised that there will be a need to keep the masterplan up to date and review it formally. Whilst the masterplan should be sufficiently flexible to deal with minor changes, should there be a significant change of circumstances of relevance to the development of the site, for instance as the result of changes in national, regional or structure planning guidance, there will be a need to carry out a formal review of the masterplan.

Policy HATAER3 - Requirement for a Masterplan

The development of the Hatfield Aerodrome site should be in accordance with the adopted masterplan which expands on the objectives, policies and proposals of the District Plan. The masterplan has been prepared jointly by the Local Planning Authority and the relevant landowners.

Any subsequent reviews of the masterplan will be subject to public consultation prior to adoption by the Council.

Alterations to the masterplan of a minor nature will only be allowed at the discretion of the Local Planning Authority.

Land Use Proposals

14.22 The Masterplan, which was adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance in November 1999, sets out the amount and disposition of each major land use proposed for the site. The Land Use Plan which sets out this disposition of uses has been incorporated into the District Plan, and can be seen in the Hatfield Aerodrome Inset of the Proposals Map.

14.23 It is appropriate that the major land use areas are set out in the District Plan, together with an indication of likely floorspace.

Policy HATAER4 - Land Use Proposals for the Hatfield Aerodrome Site

The land use proposals for the development of the Hatfield Aerodrome site are set out in Inset Map 3 of the Proposals Map.

The land use proposals are as follows:

Land Use Proposals for the Hatfield Aerodrome Site

Land UseArea (Acres)Area (Hectares)Quantum
Residential Area (north)45.118.3 
Residential Area (south)57.623.3 
Residential Area (adjacent to District Centre)7.02.8 
Local Centre24.19.8 
Primary School6.02.4 
Budget Hotel2.00.8 
Business Hotel6.02.4 
Aviation Heritage Centre2.551.0 
Infrastructure and strategic landscaping25.910.5 
Green Belt (north)18.57.5 
Green Belt (south)304.0123.7Remaining area within St.Albans District
Bishop Square (existing employment)15.86.4 

< Prev |Contents | Next >
Back to top