Welwyn High Street – WPAG Protest

Open Letter To Hertfordshire County Council

The Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group has been in regular conversation with Cllr Richard Smith with regard to the current and proposed COVID-19 restrictions in Welwyn village.

It has been our understanding that the current, unsatisfactory, arrangements would be amended as soon as possible. We appreciate that this has had to wait for clarification of central government decisions.

Current Chaos

The truly draconian measures in place are destructive to the community, its lifestyle and its operation.

The High Street traders and shops, as well as residents, are seriously affected by what has been imposed on the village. In order to allow Welwyn to survive at all, the current restrictions need to be reversed and, if another scheme must be introduced, replaced with something as minimally invasive as possible. Residents have coped until now with social distancing and really the only precaution that is necessary is for everyone to wear a face covering when inside a shop and to queue one metre apart where necessary.

The WPAG Position

The Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group fully supports:

We sincerely hope that due account will be given to this matter, urgently.

Yours sincerely,

Sandra Saunders (Kyriakides)

CHAIRMAN, WELWYN PLANNING & AMENITY GROUP

STOP PRESS – Welwyn High Street

THE WELWYN PLANNING & AMENITY GROUP ARE AWARE OF YOUR CONCERNS

OUR SHOPS ARE COMING BACK.  PLEASE SUPPORT THEM – OR WE MAY LOSE THEM, AND THE VIBRANT ECONOMY OF OUR VILLAGE.

WITH REGARD TO THE CHANGES TO THE TRAFFIC FLOW IN THE HIGH STREET, WPAG IS AWARE THAT “ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL” and is concerned at the effect these changes will make on residents and businesses.

WPAG will be closely monitoring the situation.  We will liaise with Herts CC and WPC and try to ensure arising issues are resolved.

Please note that the changes are temporary.  The initial trial is for 21 days from 25th May.  This is, however, likely to be extended, dependent upon government guidelines.

RESIDENTS PLEASE LET US KNOW:

  • What problems you are directly experiencing due to the changes
  • Whether the changes have made you feel safer on the High Street
  • Any modifications that you feel would improve the situation

BUSINESSES – PLEASE LET US KNOW

  • If you are currently operating, has footfall in your business dropped since the changes were implemented?  By approximately how much?
  • If you are due to open, how you feel the changes might affect your business?
  • Any modifications that you feel would improve the situation

Email:

WPAG feels that this temporary scheme can work if there is adequate co-operation, consultation and communication from those running it.

Indeed, the village has coped admirably until now and the few shops that will reopen may not affect the footfall in the village enough to warrant the current amount of disruption.

WHY ARE THESE CHANGES HAPPENING?

In preparation for the reopening of some of our shops and businesses, Central Government has provided funds to local councils to deploy measures that will:

  • Provide space to pedestrians
  • Allow people to use our high streets safely
  • Queue safely outside shops
  • Pass each other at a suitable distance.

Such measures have been actioned throughout the UK where the existing footway width does not allow people to keep 2 metres apart.

The measures now temporarily in place have taken space away from vehicular traffic in order to enable people to keep 2m apart, in line with official guidelines.

Traffic flows are currently lower than historic trends, whilst both pedestrian and cycle usage have increased, many people are continuing to work from home and public transport usage patterns have all changed.  The new measures will be kept under review to check they are operating as intended and, as necessary, adapted to a changing situation.

FOR GENERAL INFORMATION

The following extract is from Public Health England’s statement on the Gov.UK website:

Coronaviruses can be spread when people with the virus have close, sustained contact with people who are not infected. This typically means spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person, such as talking to someone for instance. 

So, passing someone quickly in the street would not appear to pose any risk, whereas chatting in a queue less than 2metres apart would.

NHS advice posted on 26/05/2020 was that masks/face coverings should be worn in shops, crowded areas and on public transport.

We can also take encouragement from the fact that, in terms of risk, the infection rate in the East of England is very low in comparison with other areas. 

Sandra Kyriakides/Saunders

Chairman, Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

A1(M) Smart Upgrade – Consultation

Highways England are actively encouraging residents to let them know of any concerns with regard to the proposed A1(M) upgrade to  Smart Motorway project.

When does the Consultation run?

The consultation will run until March.  Work will start on the A1(M) junctions 6 to 8 in March 2020  to strengthen the existing hard shoulder so that two lanes can be kept open for traffic when work starts on the central reservation. 

Who to contact?

Highways England – see address box below.

What are they going to do?

For full details go to www.highwaysengland.co.uk/A1Mjunctions6to8

It will be sometime before the works are completed as these are extensive.

For your convenience we outline below the work involved:

    Detailed design development

    Strengthening the hard shoulder

    Structural survey work

    Site clearance, including vegetation and the verge

   Detailed topography, drainage and road surface surveys

Installation of:

    New gantry structures to display overhead electronic message signs

    CCTV cameras with full coverage of all lanes

    Incident detection and automatic sign systems

    Enforcement cameras

    Emergency roadside telephones

    Electronic signals and signage

    Constructing emergency areas (identifiable by orange road surfaces)

with distinctive advanced signs

    Upgrading the central reservation by installing a rigid concrete barrier

    Laying low-noise road surface

    Replanting the verges

HOW TO CONTACT HIGHWAYS ENGLAND

HIGHWAYS ENGLAND 

We have several ways you can contact us to discuss the A1(M) junctions 6 to 8 smart motorway.

Phone: 0300 123 5000

Email:

Website, and to sign up for email alerts:

NO TIME TO WASTE

Please address your comments and queries to Highways England (contact details above). 

The WPAG, Welwyn Parish Council, and Hertfordshire County Council will of course be responding to the consultation, BUT the views and concerns of local residents are very important to them.

Highways England need to hear from you.

Banking in the Village

The outside the bank photo shows L – R :  Cllr Tony Kingsbury (Leader Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council), Sandra Kyriakides (Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group), Grant Shapps MP, Jane Carr (St Mary’s Church), Delene Miller (Welwyn Post Office)

The outside the bank photo shows L – R :  Cllr Tony Kingsbury (Leader Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council), Sandra Kyriakides (Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group), Grant Shapps MP, Jane Carr (St Mary’s Church), Delene Miller (Welwyn Post Office)

PRESS RELEASE                                      09 March 2019

WELWYN TO LOSE ITS ONLY BANK AT THE END OF MARCH

Barclays Bank’s scheduled closure will go ahead on 29th March.  This is despite the Petition co-ordinated by Christina Raven, bearing 1184 signatures, which asks that the bank should stay open for a few more years.

At a meeting with Barclays on Friday 8th March, Grant Shapps MP presented the petition on behalf of the community to Donna Hagan-Grenfell, Community Banking Director.  Also present were Cllr Tony Kingsbury, Leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Sandra Kyriakides for the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group, Jane Carr for St Mary’s Church and Delene Miller, proprietor of Welwyn’s Post Office.  Lisa Webb, Barclays Community Relations Officer and Dean Body, Director of Business Banking at Welwyn Garden City were also present.

Grant Shapps spelled out the major issues that the closure of the Bank will create.   These are of great concern to the local community and Mr Shapps asked that Barclays find ways to help the community in the short-term, until long-term solutions are implemented.

Sandra Kyriakides pointed out that the nearest banks to Welwyn are either 4 miles away in Welwyn Garden City or 5 miles away in Stevenage.  This can involve half a day on buses for the elderly and less able, for whom Barclays in Welwyn has been a lifeline for so many years.  She also said that the defibrillator needs to be as near to its current location as possible as this is the part of the village with the highest footfall.  She raised the concern of businesses that operate mainly on a cash basis and the problems they will have.

Dona Hagan expressed a willingness to help on behalf of Barclays.  She was unable to give definitive answers at the meeting but will be seeking approval for the suggestions made and will report back to those present at the meeting as soon as possible.

The meeting was very positive.  Agreement, in principle, was reached for the following:

  1. The ATM machine is to be relocated to a suitable site within Welwyn Village and will be paid for and maintained by Barclays, provided they can do this without incurring a rental charge.  Barclays will endeavour to keep the current machine operational until then.  Grant Shapps stressed that there must be no break in availability of cash provision.
  • The Defibrillator can remain on the wall of the Barclays Bank building until approval for the new site is finalised and Barclays will continue to supply the electrical connection.  This could take some months.   Barclays has agreed to cover the cost of moving and reinstalling the defibrillator.
  •  A Banking Assistance service will be provided by Barclays for as long as is appropriate to those who need help with online banking procedures.  This will be of particular benefit to the older members of the community who are less mobile or unsure of technology.  St Mary’s Church has offered space in Church House to run these sessions on Tuesday mornings when Community Café meets.
  • Businesses that are Barclays customers are invited to contact Dean Body at Welwyn Garden City to discuss arrangements that may be possible for provision and collection of cash, called “Business Collect”.  Dona Hagan also agreed to investigate the possibility of providing this service to the Charity Shop and Church.

Although Barclays’ decision is irreversible and the loss of the bank will be difficult for Welwyn, they are at least listening to the problems that losing the bank will cause to the village and seem to be willing to help.

Our thanks to Grant Shapps MP for his support and to Christina Raven for all her work putting together the Petition, which Barclays say they will acknowledge.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group


Van Gogh – Welwyn’s bust is part of a wide community

The following report has been produced by the sculptor, Anthony Padgett, who provided this photo..

In total there are 7 of the sculptures (each in England, France, Holland and Belgium.

The locations were chosen after careful research into the life of Van Gogh.

Europe mainland:

  • Espace Van Gogh in Arles (to be unveiled on 9th March 2019), France, where Van Gogh lived as an artist 1888-1889 in the Yellow House and where he infamously cut his ear off
  • the Van Gogh Library in Nuenen, Holland, (already sited) where Van Gogh lived at the family home and was an artist 1883-1885
  • in the Borinage in Belgium (to be unveiled 2019) where he was a missionary to the mining community 1878-1879

In the UK – the Four places Vincent lived in the UK:

  • Brixton (already sited) Art Dealer 1873-1875,
  • Isleworth (to be unveiled 16th March) – Teacher 1876
  • Ramsgate (to be unveiled 15th June) – Teacher 1876
  • Welwyn (already sited) – where he walked 100 miles to visit his sister in 1876.

The work coincides with a resurgance of interest in Van Gogh and the blockbuster exhibition at Tate Britain of Van Gogh’s work which will celebrate his time in England.

Anthony (50 years old) said “I have had a life-long interest in art and was struck by how Van Gogh’s work was so unique and distinctive. This made me want to explore his technique and create my own work as a result. I spent a year creating 80 artworks around Vincent as I wanted to engage in his intensity to gain an insight into his life. This was so I would be better placed to create a sculpture that captured some of his personality. When you look into the sculpture’s eyes you get a glimpse into the soul of a deep and intense visionary.”

For further details contact the artist:

Anthony Padgett 0790 2342448


Pavements and Pathways – a Response

Further to my recent post on Nextdoor, I’ve received a lot of replies complaining about pavements and pathways. I spoke with County Councillor Richard Smith today and he will be happy to help in any way he can. He also suggests that you go onto the Herts CC website: and lodge your complaint, or phone them on 0300 123 4047.

County Councillor Smith also asks that you let him know so that he can push for action where it is needed. I will be passing all the complaints I have received on to him, but many of them do not have full contact addresses and names so it would be helpful for him if you could email him or phone him. Many thanks. Sandra Kyriakides,

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group29 Jan · Welwyn in General

Pavements and Pathways

The Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group is compiling a list of pavements and pathways in our Parish that are in need of repair/attention. You can help by letting me know if there are any such issues in your area. We hope to then bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate local authorities and will do all we can to get action where it is needed.

Many thanks for your assistance. Sandra Kyriakides

Please email me at

The Local Plan – a message for Welwyn Parish Council

The following is drafted by Sandra Kyriakides.

WPAG believes that in the context of further WHBC Green Belt Study – Stage 3 called for by the Inspector, (see the WHBC December Local Plan Newsletter) the WPC should reiterate to WHBC by the 20th December 2019 deadline, the major concerns we have for any development in Welwyn – particularly on Green Belt sites – other than those that have already been agreed.

We argue this case on the basis of: 

  • the total lack of infrastructure to support further development
  • regular peak hour gridlock at the Clock roundabout 
  • major redevelopment plans in Codicote (and further afield at Langley) which will increase traffic flow along the B656, which is already overcapacity at peak periods
  • the recent approval of a housing development at the former Entech site in Woolmer Green and traffic flows on the B197
  • lack of adequate medical provision for an increased population – Lister and QEII Hospitals are running at capacity – and 3-week waiting for GP appointments in local surgeries.

The Welwyn Neighbourhood Plan – Where does Welwyn stand?

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN

The following is drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

This is a new power available to local councils, introduced by the Localism Act 2011.

If Welwyn Parish Council decides to proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan, this would enable control over the definition of future type and location of development.

An adopted Neighbourhood Plan would become part of the statutory development plan.

The local planning authority (i.e. WHBC) has a duty to support those creating neighbourhood plans.

With the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), if in possession of an adopted Neighbourhood Plan, WPC would be entitled to a payment of 25% uncapped.  Without a plan it would receive a payment equal to 15% capped to £100 per dwelling.

If the Parish Council does not have a Neighbourhood Plan, WHBC would receive uncapped payments equal to 25%.

If a Neighbourhood Plan is produced by another organisation (i.e. not the Parish Council) within the community, payments would be subject to consultation with the local authority.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT FOR WELWYN NOT TO HAVE A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN:

  • WHBC WOULD THEN RECEIVE ALL MONEYS ON BUILDING WITHIN OUR PARISH TO SPEND AS THEY WISH.
  • WELWYN WOULD HAVE NO CONTROL OVER FUTURE BUILDING PROJECTS.

Welwyn Parish Council is undecided as to whether it will proceed to produce a Neighbourhood Plan because of (a) the cost implication and (b) the amount of work required to do so.

However, a working party has been set up by WPC, currently lead by Cllr Mark Castle.  The Clerk is working with Cllr Castle on the Terms of Reference for the group.   The group will examine the pros and cons of having a plan and put forward their recommendation to WPC which will then discuss this at a meeting.  If the decision is to proceed, volunteers from members of the public with specific skills in planning/architecture as well as from local action groups will be sought, to help produce the plan.

WPAG CONSIDERS IT IS VITAL THAT THERE IS A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN AND THAT WPC WOULD BE REMISS IN ITS PUBLIC DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY IF IT FAILS TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS.

The Local Plan – Next Steps

The following draft has been prepared by Sandra Kyriakides

A report to Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel (CPPP) on Thursday (13 December) outlines how the council will seek to meet the objectively assessed need for 16,000 new homes in the borough to 2033.

Members are set to consider the next steps in the development of the borough’s Local Plan, including a further call for new sites.

It follows a request from the government’s planning inspector to carry out a further study assessing the borough’s green belt to find more land for housing. This work assessed the likely impact of development on the green belt, identifying that the borough’s housing need can only be met in full if the council considers land where development would have high impact.

The report to CPPP recommends a call for new sites in the hope that more will come forward in lower harm areas. These will be published for public comment and council officers will then assess sites for their suitability for development. A decision will then be made on which sites are added to the plan for consideration by the inspector.

Cllr Stephen Boulton, Executive Member for Planning, said: “For our plan to move forwards, we must prove to the inspector that we’ve explored all possible options to deliver the level of growth the borough needs for the future.”

“A call for sites in the New Year will give us the best chance of producing a sound plan, a plan that balances the protection of our green belt with the need to deliver the new homes, jobs, services and infrastructure our children and grandchildren will rely on.”

Members will also agree a new timetable, which would see a four week call for new sites in January 2019, followed by sites being published for six weeks of public comment in February and March. It is hoped the plan will now be adopted in spring 2020.

To read the full report, visit the council’s website.