The Project Manager Reports – Local Plans should be Appropriate

The following was written by Sandra Kyriakides and published in the Welwyn Hatfield Times on August 9th 2017 p.22 under the headline ‘How many houses needed after Brexit?’

Sir,

I was deeply concerned to learn that the Planning Inspector has claimed that WHBC’s Local Plan “falls far short of meeting the identified housing need”.  I am the first to criticise the Borough Council for many things that it does but the plan it has submitted is already way in excess of what the Borough’s residents feel the area can sustain.

Central Government seems to have no awareness of the fact, or chooses to ignore, that we in Welwyn Hatfield have major traffic problems, inadequate medical provision, not enough schools and definitely not enough infrastructure to cope with the 12,000 homes that WHBC has put into the plan – let alone one or two thousand more.  Is the Inspector totally oblivious of the fact that there is only one proper hospital, which constantly works to capacity?  There are no provisions for another one.

Where are all the people in these homes going to work and how are they going to commute?  We have appalling links to London; the A1(M) is blocked with accidents on a daily basis; the M25 is one of the world’s slowest ring roads; the only bus to London (797) was stopped two years ago and other bus services have been drastically reduced.  As for the trains: mostly unreliable and pretty appalling and Govia’s plans for the future do not make encouraging reading.  Parking anywhere is more and more difficult – especially at train stations, not to mention the exorbitant cost.

So what does the Inspectorate want to achieve?  Cram more and more homes into the area regardless of the fact that the facilities are just not there to support them?

The “elephant in the room” that no-one mentions is Brexit!  How can anyone accurately “assess” future housing requirements when no-one knows how Brexit will affect this?  The OANs (objectively assessed needs) were calculated before the Brexit vote!  There will certainly be a slow-down in residents coming from Europe, and many currently here may decide to return home or relocate due to changes in workplace.

Central Government should take stock of the situation and see how it develops.  It should build new towns with good transport links to major cities and stop forcing local councils to ruin beautiful areas by cramming housing into every nook and cranny regardless of consequences.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager, Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

Former WHBC Councillor (Independent) for Welwyn West

Dr John Reay 1932 – 2017

It is with great sadness that we record the death of our colleague John Reay, a member of the Committee continuously from 1978 – 2017.

Over those years John held many positions, and early Minute Books record the many positions he held:

1975 – 1984 auditor

1978 – 1982 Treasurer

1982 – 1984 Chairman

1993 – 2002 Chairman

2001 – 2010 Secretary

During his terms of Office as Chairman, with his trade-mark extensive knowledge, wide experience and sound judgement, John undoubtedly helped to shape the community that we all enjoy today. He always led from the front with tenacity and energy.

A notable example arose in 1982, when as a resident of Danesbury, and in his first term of office as Chairman of the WPAG, he played a major part in forming the Danesbury Residents Association with the initial prime purpose of raising sufficient funds to employ Counsel to fight the Appeal by Rialto Homes to build 650 homes on Danesbury Park. Working with the Parish Council and the then District Council, and representing both the Danesbury Residents Association and the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group, John addressed the Inspector at the Appeal.

The appeal was successfully fought and it pays us all to stop and consider for just one moment what a significant difference it would have made to the village today, had the Rialto development of 650 houses succeeded.

And then, in 1992, before commencing his second term of office as Chairman, John gave a clue to those subjects dearest to his heart when he gave the Annual WPAG AGM Presentation on the subject of ‘The Environment and Us’. He focused his talk on three topics which he pursued vigorously throughout his time here in Welwyn:

  • The A1(M)  motorway
  • The Mimram River
  • The situation regarding waste disposal and litter.

They were just a few of the ‘big issues’ that John was involved with in his 9 years second term of Office as Chairman of the WPAG.

Apart from the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group, a fuller research would uncover many other Committees and organisations in Welwyn that felt John’s influence over the years.

What is beyond doubt is that the Community will miss John’s influence and his wise counsel. We all owe him a huge debt of thanks for his kindness and wisdom and for the help and encouragement he gave to others who had the temerity to try to follow in his footsteps.

Other Organisations that John was involved with are as follows:

Welwyn Parish Council

(To be researched)

Welwyn & District Road Safety Committee

John was an active member of the Welwyn & District Road Safety Committee for many years.

Danesbury Residents Association

Since 1982 when John as Chairman of the WPAG was instrumental in setting up the Danesbury Residents Association to fight the Rialto Housing development on Danesbury Park, he has remained a Member of the DRA Committee without interruption from 1982-2017, a total of 35 years. During all that time the Committee has enjoyed the benefit of his counsel, advice and extensive knowledge developed over all the years he has been an active and leading member of this community of ours in Welwyn.