Community Cafe – Another Year goes by

The Community Cafe is celebrating its 6th Birthday on Tuesday 3rd November 2015, so please make a special effort to come along and support Barbara Spencer and her hard working team of volunteers.

Every Tuesday the Community Cafe offers a welcome tea, coffee and biscuits, or a toasted tea cake, all at a very reasonable price. You will meet up with many local friends for a good chat. A Parish Councillor is usually there, and sometimes the local PCSO pops in.

The Community Cafe was launched on 3rd November 2009 as one of many products of the Welwyn Parish Plan. It  is a joint venture between Welwyn Parish Plan Action Group (WPPAG) and St. Mary’s Parochial Church Council (PCC).

The Community Cafe is held every Tuesday in New Church House, Welwyn.

Opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 12 p.m.

Bee Awareness – Education and Training in Welwyn

The Welwyn Beekeepers Association (WBKA) hold a free Bee Awareness session each Autumn for those just interested in knowing more about bees and the work of the beekeeper, and those thinking about taking up beekeeping and would like to know a little more first.

This year’s session is on Tuesday 20th October 2015 from 7.30 – 10.00 pm at the Christchurch Halls, Welwyn Garden City.

All non-members of the WBKA are welcomed, but should first email the WBKA Education and Training Coordinator, Mike Goodhew, at

Planning Portal News – 14th October 2015 – Local Plans shrinking the Green Belt

Planning Portal News: 8 October 2015

Green belt figures

New figures show that there has been a decrease of around 2,000 hectares overall of green belt in England between April 2013 and the end of March 2015 largely because of new local plans adopted by 11 local authorities.

These latest figures show that the extent of the designated green belt in England as at 31st March 2015 was estimated at 1,636,620 hectares, around 13 per cent of the land area of England.

Since these statistics were first compiled for 1997, there has been an increase of 32,000 hectares in the area of green belt after taking account of the re-designation of some green belt as part of the New Forest National Park in 2005.

(The above is an extract from Planning Portal News)

The Clock Gardens – A Timely Response for Opinions from Local Residents

Whilst listening to local residents at various locations, it became apparent that there are many varying opinions about the new Clock Gardens development. With the use of the social media website, Streetlife, and other forms of communication, many comments were provided and this is just a sample of some of them who corresponded on Streetlife.

Lin W believes that the development is an abomination and cannot understand how developers got approval as it is not in keeping with the surrounding area.

Linda Mc says that it is an ugly development in the wrong place, but also highlighted another major issue regarding traffic problems at rush hour.

One of the other contributors to Streetlife, Chloe, is one of the few that actually like the development and had many comments to make including her view that it is very attractive. She also mentions that it is better than building a nursing home as the local medical staff would not be able to cope with the demand. Her views include the benefit for younger members of our community who have to start somewhere on the housing ladder.

Ian S made an interesting comment about being elbowed out by buy-to-letters if he wished to buy one of the flats. Other comments have indicated that these flats have been mostly bought by buy-to-letters so Chloe’s comment about first time buyers may not ring true here.

Apart from the few who actually like the development, other respondents based their views on a couple of topics including the ugliness of the development, the possible traffic problems that may be caused at peak times and how did the project get approved in the first place?

One comment from a local resident on the way to Stevenage when passing the development was “Living there will be like sleeping on the hard shoulder of the Motorway!

Local Plan – Welwyn Hatfield – Progress update

WHBC Cabinet Housing and Planning Panel Newsletter No 8 reports that they have recommended to Cabinet a revised timetable for the preparation of the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan.

The following are extracts from the WHBC Newsletter No 8 published October 2015

To get your own copy of the Newsletters you are invited to email your details to or telephone 01707 357532.

The Borough Newsletter No 8 declares:

The revised timetable reflects the amount of time that it will take to: analyse nearly 6,000 consultation responses to the draft plan; assess 61 new and/or amended sites; update evidence, such as the need for new homes in the borough; receive evidence from third-party studies such as the Herts Water Study; and liaise with service providers in respect of schools and healthcare and other infrastructure.

New Sites

The Newsletter identifies that many new and/or amended sites have been put forward for potential inclusion in the Local Plan since the draft was put out to consultation earlier this year. Details of these proposed sites can be found on the Local Plan website, but they come with a caveat. In none of these instances have the proposed sites yet been assessed for suitability.

Of special interest to the WPAG, there are a number of newly proposed housing sites affecting Welwyn directly, and it is worthwhile familiarising yourself with these, in readiness for our involvement in the Consultation on the final draft Local Plan which is scheduled for the Summer of 2016.

Drop In Events

But in fact you do not have to wait that long, because the Borough is running two drop-in events where these proposed new/amended sites will be able to be viewed, as follows:

20th October 2015     – at The Hub, Hatfield Town Centre between 4 pm and 7.30 p.m.

11th November 2015 – at The Focolare Centre, Parkway, Welwyn Garden City, between 4 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.

At these events we are informed that officers will be available to answer questions about the Local Plan process and the feedback received to date.

We repeat, the Borough cautions that these sites have not yet been assessed and therefore no decision has been made on their suitability.

Local Plan Timeline

Autumn – Winter 2015    Review responses and further technical work

Spring 2016                    Complete evidence, site assessments, draft final Local Plan

Summer 2016                 Consultation on final draft Local Plan

Autumn/Winter 2016       Review responses and submit for examination

Early 2017                       Examination in Public

Spring/Autumn 2017       Examination Inspector’s Report and Adoption

Pulhamite artificial stonework – further appreciation.

Our post about the volunteer efforts to uncover the artificial Pulhamite stone in the Danesbury Fernery has raised a great deal of fresh interest. If you want to extend your knowledge and understanding of the special attributes and heritage values of Pulhamite, then we have learned that there is a Presentation this coming Saturday 3rd October 2015 to celebrate The Great Restoration of the Swiss Garden at the Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden, nr Biggleswade. This is an all-day Study Day to celebrate Pulhamite rockwork and its conservation, for which details, and the need for a fairly rapid online booking Form, can be found at the Shuttleworth Collection website.

Our WPAG member Francesca Weal, well known and esteemed local architect, has informed the Editor that she was involved in ‘The Great Restoration’ of the Swiss Garden at Old Warden, which is famed for its use of Pulham artificial stonework. (See Francesca’s Comment at the foot of the Fernery post!)