The poor State of our Local Pavements/Pathways

The following Report was drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

CONDITION OF LOCAL PAVEMENTS/PATHWAYS

WPAG is conducting a survey of local pavements and pathways that are in bad or poor condition.

If you know of any problem locations – please tell us.

Input from you is vital so, if there are any in your area, please email the location details to 

We will record all reported details in our dossier, and WPAG will then raise the matter with those responsible for their maintenance.

 

The Local Plan – a Green Belt Update

The following post was drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

WHBC LOCAL PLAN EXAMINATION

The Local Plan for Welwyn Hatfield Borough was submitted for examination on 15 May 2017 and Melvyn Middleton BA(Econ) DipTP DipMgmt MRTPI was appointed by the Secretary of State to carry out an independent examination of our Local Plan (2013-2032).

The Inspector’s task is to consider the soundness of the submitted plan, based on the criteria set out in paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework).

A series of Public Staged Hearings have been held by the Inspector with WHBC Officers, and he has received submissions from invited public representatives.

All the Staged Hearings are all available to be studied on the WHBC website.

Green Belt

Of particular interest at this time are the Inspector’s comments at the Stage 5 Hearing which addressed Green Belt issues.

To understand these better, we will first review current legislation regarding Green Belts.

Government policy on the Green Belt is set out in chapter 13 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  Paragraph 133 states that ‘the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence’.

2.18 This is elaborated in NPPF paragraph 134, which states that Green Belts should serve five purposes, as set out below.

The purposes of Green Belt:

  • To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas.
  • To prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another.
  • To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment.
  • To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns.
  • To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban

Welwyn Hatfield’s case

The acuteness of the need for housing and the limited availability of land within urban areas for housing and employment have led WHBC to conclude that exceptional circumstances exist to review Green Belt boundaries to positively plan for the Borough’s development needs.  To deliver the most sustainable pattern of growth, development is to be directed to the urban areas and inset villages.  In addition, a new village ‘Symondshyde’ is proposed to the North West of Hatfield.

The Stage 5 Hearing

The Green Belt Review prepared and submitted by WHBC was discussed at the Stage 5 Hearing with the Government Inspector on 6th & 7th November 2018.  It can be viewed online on the WHBC website.  The document is 20 pages long; the points of interest that I picked up are mostly in questions 37 and 38.

The Council holds the view, and has therefore stated that exceptional circumstances exist only to meet the need for employment and housing growth and any change to the boundary will therefore be limited to the site allocations process.

The Inspector indicated at the round up session on the Green Belt Study that in his view the methodology was robust, and he has confirmed that he is not intending to have any further hearing sessions to discuss methodology.

As (public) representations have been made, stating that assessment of harm was not carried out on a consistent basis, the Inspector has asked that there should be consultation on the consistency of the scorings of the parcels and sub-division of parcels. The Inspector wants these matters to have been addressed before the village hearing sessions take place.

The deadline for comments is 5:00pm on Thursday 20 December.  Comments received will be posted on the WHBC website on the examination pages, estimated by end of January.

 

Singlers Marsh Litter Bin Replacement

Local walkers in July/August noticed that the large litter bin which used to be next to the seat on Singlers Marsh, had disappeared!  It had been vandalised and believed to have been thrown into the River. Without a vigorous WPAG approach to the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, on behalf of  local residents and visitors alike, it is quite likely that nothing would have been done to replace it in a very long time.

There is a small litter bin attached to the fence by the exit gate onto Fulling Mill Lane, but this frequently gets overloaded, and it would seem that apart from litter, it is also being used by dog walkers to deposit dog poo bags.

Disgusting as this might be, it is perhaps not surprising as Singlers Marsh is clearly in need of dog poo bins too, and the Friends of Singlers Marsh volunteer group have been pressing the responsible Borough Council Officers to take a look at the site.

The WPAG were able to help by pushing hard to demand a timescale to resolve these issues, and local Borough Councillor Tony Kingsbury, who is Executive member for Housing and Community, responded.

We are pleased to report that a replacement waste bin has now been installed.

So what about dog poo bins? What about errant dog owners?

The case is still open.

 

The Neglected Codicote Road pathway

THE CODICOTE ROAD PATHWAY

The pathway between the area alongside the Mimram from Fulling Mill Lane to the first house on the Codicote Road has suffered from total neglect over the past 2 years.  Brambles and weeds encroaching onto the path reduced the width of the walking area to just about 1 foot for pedestrians.

WPAG’s Project Manager persuaded WHBC to strim back the overgrowth in time for the Welwyn Street Market on 16th June.  The job is only partly done – the mud and ivy, together with weed roots remain embedded onto the path and hard work with a shovel is going to be the only effective solution.

WHBC have been made aware of this and we await further information/action.

Water Abstraction at Singlers Marsh – an Update

AFFINITY WATER ABSTRACTION FROM THE MIMRAM NEAR WELWYN VILLAGE

Background

WPAG’s Project Manager has maintained regular contact with the Environment Agency (EA) in order to keep updated on progress in relation to the Affinity Water abstraction near Welwyn Village.

The EA wrote to WPAG in March 2017, informing us about the interim operating agreement for the pumping station agreed by the EA with Affinity Water.  This agreement was to be in place while searching for a solution to any increase in flood risk caused by permanently ceasing abstraction at the pumping station.

The agreement made a provision to maintain a small constant abstraction with the option to increase abstraction back up to 2016 levels if groundwater reached a certain level (agreed at 95.8 Metres above Ordnance Datum (mAOD)).

Current Abstraction Rate

Affinity Water are not currently abstracting from this pumping station and have not done so since April 2017.  This is because abstracting at the lower rate has not been possible due to required upgrades at the pumping station.  Throughout the period since April 2017, the existing pumps have remained in place, but they have not been used because they are unsuitable for pumping at the lower rate.  The upgrade work is now close to completion and it is expected that Affinity Water will start abstracting again at the lower rate this summer.

Singlers Marsh was very wet this Spring,  this is because of persistent rainfall since the start of 2018 and the subsequent rise in groundwater levels.

 

Groundwater levels at Lilley Bottom observation borehole are currently around 95 mAOD and have been rising steadily since the start of the year.  However, given that we are at the end of the colder wetter months when groundwater recharge usually occurs, it is unlikely that groundwater levels will rise to the 95.8 mAOD trigger level in the next six months.  In most years the peak groundwater level is reached in April or May and then falls through summer and autumn.

Flood Risk Model

The EA are still working on their flood risk model for the Mimram catchment. This has taken far longer than expected due to a number of complications and resourcing issues. This work is now nearing completion and WPAG expects to receive an update later this year.

It was always anticipated that the North end of Singlers Marsh would flood during the wet months and this has not given undue cause for concern.  It will be interesting to see whether the lower rate abstraction will have any effect on the Mimram at the Southern end of Singlers Marsh.  Memories of the dried out river bed and the loss of wildlife still remain and the area is only just beginning to recover to the state it was prior to that.

Water Resources Management Plan

With regard to the Affinity Water Draft WATER Resources Management Plan 2020-2080  consultation 19 MARCH – 23 MAY/Draft BUSINESS Plan 2020-2025 Public consultation 26th APR – 25th MAY,  concern has been expressed to WPAG by wildlife society members that Affinity may be trying to renege on their agreement with the EA to reduce abstraction. This obviously relates to the wider catchment areas of the River Mimram and other chalk streams.

WPAG’s Project Manager asked the EA for comment on these concerns.  Their response was:

We have reviewed Affinity Water’s draft Water Resources Management Plan and provided our advice to the company. The plan put forward two options for the level of abstraction reductions that will be carried out between 2020 and 2025. Our understanding is that both of these options include the previously agreed abstraction reduction for the Mimram.

One of the options did include a lower level of abstraction reduction for some other rivers in the Affinity Water operating area. Our advice to the company was to go with the plan that has the previously agreed level of abstraction reduction for all rivers. The company will provide a statement of response this summer to indicate how they have taken this advice and that of other respondents to the consultation on board.

Next Step

The EA will advise WPAG when the statement from Affinity Water becomes available and further relevant information will be posted on the WPAG website in due course.

 

Support the Oaklands Campaign for a Playground

THE CAMPAIGN FOR A PLAYGROUND IN OAKLANDS NEEDS SUPPORT FROM LOCAL MUMS

This is a message from the Oaklands Playground Team

Calling mums of youngsters in the Oaklands area.  Vicky Turkentine is looking for support with her campaign to establish a playground in the Oaklands area.  As you know, there is nothing for young ones at present and this is a facility that is very much lacking for local residents.

Please check out her website and help her in any way you can.  She is totally dedicated to this project and has put much time and effort into researching a suitable location.

 

WPAG Secures the Return of Van Gogh to Welwyn

GENEROUS DONATION TO WELWYN VILLAGE OF A VAN GOGH BUST BY AWARD-WINNING SCULPTOR, ANTHONY PADGETT

The Offer – almost rejected.

Vincent Van Gogh’s sister Anna lived and worked in Welwyn, (Miss Applegarth’s School in Forge Lane) and her brother walked a 100-mile journey to visit her here in June 1876 and there are plaques in the village to commemorate that journey.

Copyright Anthony Padgett

In February 2018 year, sculptor, artist and author, Anthony Padgett wrote to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councillors, and other official organisations, generously offering a cold-cast bust of Vincent Van Gogh.to match similar offers made to other areas associated with Van Gogh’s life and travels in Belgium, France and England.

But the Welwyn Invitation almost went off the rails because Mr Padgett’s email to our local Councillors went without acknowledgement or reply!

Thankfully the Chairman of the Welwyn Garden City Society, Will Davis, recognised that the historical connection was in fact with Welwyn village and, after contacting WPAG’s Project Manager Sandra Kyriakides and receiving an emphatic assurance of our interest, he immediately gave Anthony Padgett contact details for Sandra and the Welwyn Plannng & Amenity Group.

The Sculptor and his Project

During 2017, Mr Padgett  studied the legacy of Van Gogh, then created a  sculpture and 67 oil paintings to parallel and contrast Van  Gogh’s life with his own.

The key work of the project was an award winning sculpture based on a detailed analysis of all Van Gogh’s self-portraits.  Everyone has an idea of what Van Gogh looked like although all the many images of him differ.  Anthony Padgett attempts to balance many of the different elements.  The sculpture has been praised by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam as “very remarkable indeed.”

Action This Day

Without delay, Sandra contacted Anthony Padgett to confirm Welwyn’s interest and subsequently set up liaison between him and Welwyn Parish Council Chairman, Bill Morris.

From then on, it has been “All Systems Go” and the official unveiling ceremony of the Van Gogh bust will take place on Saturday 30th June 2018

Welwyn is extremely fortunate to have such an appropriate sculpture to add to its many Heritage sites of public interest.

Unveiling Ceremony – Saturday 30th June 2018 – Bridge Cottage Surgery 

An unveiling ceremony is to take place in front of Bridge Cottage Surgery in Welwyn High Street  by Mrs Marion Brown MBE, JP, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire,

The ceremony commences at 1030 am followed by a Reception at the Civic Centre hosted by the Welwyn Parish Council.

Welwyn Parish Council – Press Release

Unveiling ceremony of the Van Gogh bust on Saturday 30th June 2018

 The ceremony for the unveiling of the Van Gogh sculpture by Mrs Marion Brown MBE JP Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire will take place on Saturday 30th June 2018.

 The ceremony will begin from at 10.30am at the ford area of the River Mimram in the High Street (in front of the Bridge Cottage Surgery opposite the High Street Car Park), where the Chairman of Welwyn Parish Council, Cllr Bill Morris, will say a few words, followed by the artist, Anthony Padgett.

The official ceremony will take place at 11am when Mrs Marion Brown will officially unveil the sculpture.

 Following the ceremony, everyone is invited to move to the Civic Centre in Prospect Place for refreshments and an opportunity to view up close a copy of the sculpture.

The sculpture has been donated by the artist Anthony Padgett who has made a number of cold-cast busts of Vincent Van Gogh which he has donated to areas associated with the artist life (including Belgium, France and England). In 1876 Van Gogh walked 100 miles from Ramsgate to Welwyn to visit his sister Anna who lived in the village.

 

 

The Local Plan Threatens

LOCAL PLAN UPDATE:

 

The latest edition of the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Newsletter is now available.

Note that the current assessment of housing needs is now 16000, i.e. 3500 more than when the Plan was submitted!

WHBC will be looking at what bits of Green Belt they can now build on.

We need to object to any further development in the villages in the Northern part of the Borough – we are pretty much at capacity with what is already planned.

The Borough Council should be asked to look again at the huge amounts of space around Cuffley and Brookmans Park where development would be more suitable, nearer to London and transport links, and with the possibility to provide suitable infrastructure.

In Welwyn, our roads just cannot take any more traffic!  Our schools cannot take any more children; our doctors’ surgeries are full and the Lister Hospital A & E is running almost at capacity.   That is just the tip of the iceberg.

The local election has left the same group in control of WHBC, albeit only just.   They are responsible for the current situation and for finding solutions.  We will need to keep a very close eye on their proposals.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

 

May 2018

 

Parking and Road Works update

From the Project Manager

UPDATE ON PARKING ISSUES:

Residents have commented on the increased presence of parking control officers in Welwyn Village for the past couple of months.

Parking surveillance requested by Welwyn Parish Council, and organised by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, has been only 2 days a week for a long time.  There has been no request for an increase in surveillance from WPC, so one may only assume that this was instigated by WHBC.

A considerable number of tickets have been issued.  This in itself is not a bad thing if it discourages long-term parking on the High Street by those who could leave a car all day in Whitehill Car Park; and leaves space for residents to park during the permissible 1½ hour slot.

However, it may be that WHBC are looking again at changing Welwyn’s parking arrangements and/or introducing charges.  This would be a disaster for our High Street businesses and a great inconvenience for residents and visitors, who sustain the vibrant economy of our lovely village.  I will keep a close watch on the situation and will report further if there are any developments.

MEANWHILE, there have also been issues of parking tickets being issued in the Welwyn High Street car park to drivers who have parked in the narrow, undefined space at the bottom of it.  Welwyn Parish Council have agreed that, although not clearly defined as a parking space, there is no reason why cars should not park there.  In addition, there is no signage or marking of any kind to indicate that one should not park there.  WPC feel that optimum use should be made of the car park and that the smaller space can accommodate a small car or bike without problem.  THEREFORE, anyone who has been issued with a ticket for parking in that spot should definitely challenge the ticket.

PARKING AT WELWYN CIVIC CENTRE

In response to complaints from residents to Welwyn Parish Council about the lack of parking spaces at the Civic Centre for library users, WPC has decided to enforce the closure of the barrier at 23:00 nightly and, more importantly, not opening it until 09:30.  They hope this element of control will reduce the number of all-day parkers/commuters and will review the situation after two months.  Other options may be considered such as reserving certain spaces for Library users only and extending warden coverage to enforce.

PARKING IN LOCKLEYS DRIVE CAR PARK

The difficulty in parking in Lockleys is car park has been discussed in detail with WPC.  The issue is still under debate, primarily because any change to the existing conditions would be subject to a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) and mandatory consultation; the cost of which would be approximately £10,000.

Suggestions have been to allocate half of the site for all-day parking and the other half with a time restriction, e.g. 3 hours.  The WPAG will update the website as and when any decisions are made.

ROADWORKS

Starting on Monday 15th January, patch repair works commenced along the Codicote Road.  This is a temporary repair and I was advised by those doing the work that the road will be closed again sometime in the summer for a complete resurface.

The Highways Group put up diversion signs taking traffic a long way round to avoid the Codicote Road.  Although the diversion signs moved traffic away from Fulling Mill Lane locals, as well as trucks, vans and lorries, used Fulling Mill Lane as a cut-through resulting in traffic chaos, damage to gardens and verges, and many frayed tempers.

The episode has been brought to the attention of Herts County Council, with the request that, when the road is resurfaced in the summer, there needs to be a plan for the traffic management of Fulling Mill Lane.

Sandra Kyriakides

PROJECT MANAGER, WELWYN PLANNING AND AMENITY GROUP

Tel : 07802 725423

The County Local Transport Plan – WPAG Submission

As reported separately, (see Hertfordshire’s Local Transport Plan) the WPAG has been working on the draft County Local Transport Plan with the Welwyn Parish Council Planning & Licensing Committee. The following is a copy of the separate Submission to County made by the WPAG which results from this work.

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The Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group wishes to make the following comments on the Draft Local Transport Plan on behalf of Welwyn residents:

 

  1. Although the Welwyn Parish has a diverse population, there are a large number of elderly/older residents, many of whom are not fully mobile. There is a dependency on the car as a mode of transport for those who are able to drive.

 

  1. Likewise, schools in rural communities are not always within walking distance of homes, nor are the homes served by bus routes that provide an adequate service to meet the needs of parents and residents.

 

  1. We have considerable reservations about policy 4, page 51. Assumptions are made that car usage can be reduced by introducing parking restrictions.  This is all well and good for areas where the public transport system is fit for purpose; sadly in our Parish it is not, especially outside working hours and at weekends.  There is no direct transport link from the village to the nearest train station.  The one, extremely popular, bus route to London was withdrawn three years ago.  Cuts from County Council subsidies have resulted in cuts to bus timetables.  This leaves residents with no option other than the car.  We have a Catch 22 situation.

 

 

  1. In addition, a policy that restricts parking in town centres and high streets will eventually kill off the small businesses altogether. The reason that the big supermarkets are successful is because there is parking and people don’t have to struggle on buses with heavy shopping or walk long distances from bus stops.  What is needed is a policy that does not discourage the use of local shops and we are strongly opposed to any increase in parking restrictions or charges.

 

  1. The A1(M) has a junction leading directly into Welwyn village. This becomes a rat-run during rush hours for vehicles trying to overtake the congestion on that section of the motorway by cutting through the village and rejoining the A1(M) at the next junction.  The result is total congestion during peak times and a risk of danger to pedestrians using the narrow High Street pavements.

 

 

  1. The consistent requests to Highways from Parish, Borough and County councillors for a trial traffic lights scheme during peak times have not been granted. This issue is a continuing bone of contention for residents and we fail to understand the reasoning behind not at least running a trial.

 

  1. The proposed “smart” motorway will not, in our opinion, provide a solution to or alleviate this problem. In particular, there is major congestion during peak periods in all directions from the junction 6 northbound slip road, known locally as “The Clock” roundabout.  This blocks the B197 as far as Woolmer Green, the A1000 through to Digswell and the B656 as far as Codicote.  Residents report that it takes longer to reach the motorway than it does to drive to London once they have joined it.  A journey that should take 5 or 10 minutes can easily be 30 minutes or more.

 

 

  1. The situation will worsen as more new builds emerge, on the edge of the Parish and in adjacent villages, with increased traffic all using the same routes to reach the Al(M). There is insufficient infrastructure to support all the local plan building projects along the A1(M) corridor and the eventual increase in traffic will exacerbate what is already a major daily issue for local residents.  The Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group find the fact that this issue has not been given proper consideration to be unacceptable.

 

  1. The WPAG supports the proposed development of runways at Luton and Stansted. Anything that will provide increased facilities to the local area, reducing the need for long journeys by car to other airports, can only be beneficial to the community.

 

 

  1. Another issue that has caused concern is the frequent use of rural roads by heavy vehicles that access quarries. Although conditions were set that this should not happen, there seems to be no enforcement of the agreement.  In particular, large lorries servicing the quarry at Codicote, are using the B656.  This is a narrow road, with very narrow pavements and such vehicles cause both danger, noise, inconvenience and pollution to residents.

 

  1. Lastly, we would raise the issue of the East-West connectivity. This is virtually non-existent and a major improvement in public transport for this corridor is long overdue.

 

  1. The DTLP is, by its very nature, forced to make generalisations. However, it must be taken into account that rural concerns are very different to those of more developed areas.  The differences in local transport links and facilities, together with the ability to reach nearby shopping areas and hospitals, are immense.

 

  1. The lives of ordinary people are drastically affected by decisions taken by those who have no concept of the transport and commuting problems they are forced to cope with on a daily basis. Understandably, the decision-makers do not know specific areas and do not personally experience the issues raised.  That is why it is vitally important that credence is given to points raised by representatives of local communities who have on-site experience.

 

 

Sandra Kyriakides

PROJECT MANAGER, WELWYN PLANNING AND AMENITY GROUP

Tel : 07802 725423