Have your say in Neighbourhood Plan consultation

The Neighbourhood Plan goes out for public consultation from Wednesday 8th May to 28th June prior to being submitted to WHBC for final approval. This is your chance to have your say about the policies that will shape our parish for the next 20 years.

The Plan (in summary and full versions) is available on this link to the WPC website The Plan and all supporting documents can be downloaded from the  web site:  https://welwyn-pc.gov.uk/neighbourhood-plan-site/.  This includes the three Evidence Base documents: Parish Portrait, Open Spaces and Survey Report and further documentation originated by others (e.g. the WH Local Plan).  All are in .pdf format.

Comments and representations may be sent:
·     using the downloadable form (in MS Word format so it can be expanded by respondees) completed and returned as an e-mail attachment to our Deputy Clerk; or
·     using the downloadable form (in MS Word format) printed, completed and returned via the post or delivery by hand to the Parish; or
·     using the online form – details at https://welwyn-pc.gov.uk/regulation-14-consultation-response-form/or directly from: https://form.jotform.com/241214691803048
Even if you have no comments, we would still be pleased to receive a short e-mail message confirming that, so the Consultation Statement can show that result.  All responses will be anonymised if ever scrutinised or extracts will be made.

Any queries should be addressed to the Deputy Clerk (at the Parish Offices) who will endeavour to respond as soon as possible.

Our thanks go to Bill Morris who has led this plan. WPAG has been part of the working party developing the Plan. It has been drafted following the views submitted by the 1110 responses to the survey carried out throughout the Parish. The Plan includes a vision of the future and policies to help achieve that ranging from development and agriculture to business, environment and traffic. So do have a read and have your say.

A Post Office in Welwyn High Street?

In a recent response to WPAG’s pre-election questions one of the candidates suggested that getting a Post Office reopened would be a good project for WPAG.

What this candidate may not have known is that when the old Post Office in the centre of Welwyn closed down, WPAG did spend a considerable amount of time looking at alternative options to get it reopened, but were unsuccessful. The key reasons were:

a/ To make a local Post Office viable it needs to be run in conjunction with another profitable business. The previous owner, despite running it in conjunction with a gift shop, could not make a profit. She also had staffing and security problems.

b/ We approached a variety of individuals and businesses and were given good reasons why there was no appetite for running a Post Office.  These were:

  • Not cost effective unless run in conjunction with a profitable/viable business alongside.
  • Security and insurance very expensive.
  • Staff training and costs.
  • Major personal commitment.
  • Personal responsibility and liability for any shortfall to the Post Office.
  • Problems with Post Office Horizon system.  Etc.  etc.
  • Considerable financial outlay

c/ We approached the existing local Post Offices in Oaklands and Codicote to see whether they would be interested in taking over the one in Welwyn High Street to run in conjunction with their own.  They said it would not be possible. 

d/ We found there was a ‘locum’ postmaster service, but the nearest was too far away and anyway would have required investment in location, IT and equipment.

e/ A community ‘not-for-profit’ Post Office still requires it to be run in conjunction with an additional business to make it viable plus a large time and responsibility commitment. It also requires investment in premises, IT and equipment and a sizeable rota of committed and trained volunteers to take the responsibility of running it. Even in this scenario the Post Office insist that the ‘postmasters’ are liable for any shortfall.

Although we are all sad to see the Post Office close, the recent survey for the Neighbourhood Plan showed that only 5 responders out of the 1128 who responded actually spontaneously mentioned the need for a Post Office. So perhaps we have got used to going to Oaklands or Codicote.

However, should WPC feel the need is strong enough and decide to start a working party to look into this again, we would be happy to be part of it.

Singlers Marsh Village Green application progress

Following over 1000 people completing an evidence questionnaire last year, Herts County Council decided this application should go to a non-statutory Public Inquiry.

The preliminary meeting to try to iron out legal issues was held on November 3.

We have yet to receive the Inspectors ‘directions’ which determine how the Inquiry will proceed.

More information is available here

Tomorrow – second Neighbourhood Plan Open Evening

Following our very successful first Open Evening where we discussed our proposed Neighbourhood Plan policies on Planning, Development & Housing; Crime & Security; Shopping and Work & Employment, we are planning a further session where we will be covering Transport & Travel, Environment and Health & Wellbeing – subjects we are sure you will want to find out more about. 

That second Open Evening will be on 19th October, in the Civic Centre, Prospect Place.  We will open the doors from 7.00 pm and start the session promptly at 7.30 pm.  There will be a brief opening presentation and then the audience will be guided around  3 break-out groups where members of the Steering Group will present the proposed draft policies for each aspect and then invite questions, discussion and  the chance to contribute further ideas.  We will then re-join for a final Question and Answer session.  If there are any questions that we cannot answer on the night, we will reply via e-mail.  The evening should last for approximately 2- 2¼ hours and tea and coffee will be available.

Do come along to find out what is being proposed and help shape the plan for your parish to cover then next 15 – 20 years.

WPAG final response for Inspector’s review of sites for the Local Plan

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s submission of their proposed Local Plan in Jan 2020 challenged the original requirement to find sites for 16,000 new homes in the Borough. The Inspector is questioning that and has called a review of all the sites which were considered but not included.In particular the Inspector felt that Welwyn was ‘not pulling its weight’.

WPAG have been working closely with Welwyn Parish Council (WPC) to rebutt this. His Hearings will be held in early March and written statements had to be submitted by 12th February in order to be considered.

WPAG’s final response is here: https://www.wpag.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/EX238-WPAG-response-FINAL-0221.pdf

WPC’s draft response is here: https://welwynpc.egnyte.com/dl/3x9iLTBXOH/? The final version will be uploaded as soon as it is available.

Unfortunately, only people who had contributed to the first round of consultations could put in a view, but thank you to all those that did. We believe that it will help show the weight of feeling in the area as well as presenting the arguments for not going ahead with the developments.

WPAG and WPC will be attending Hearings and we will update you as soon as we have any decisions.

Welwyn High Street – Plea from Welwyn’s Traders

Open Letter to Hertfordshire County Council

We write as one-voice to Hertfordshire County Council Highways & Environment Division with our concerns about the impact the social distancing measures placed in Welwyn High Street is having and will continue to have on the ability of many of us to survive as businesses at this extremely difficult time.

In particular, the imposition of a one-way system in the High Street is extremely damaging in terms of footfall to the village. This is something we have experienced before, in 2009, with the effect of pushing some traders to the edge of survival.

The SAGE advice on the Government’s website regarding environmental transmission of coronavirus points to an extremely low risk of catching Covid-19 by passing someone on a pavement or in a shop for a short period of time.

For the first 9 weeks following lockdown when essential shops were open, the Great
Welwyn Public largely behaved with courtesy, common-sense, and personal obligation to follow social distancing rules without needing barriers to help them do this. These are the only traders that are ever likely to have queues on the pavement, such is the nature of the others that opened after 15th June, and those planning to open from 4th July onwards. Most of the latter will be operating a booking/ appointment system to avoid queues.

Whilst whole-heartedly supporting the need for people to follow social distancing
guidelines, we believe it is perfectly possible in the context of Welwyn Village for customers and staff to do this in a safe way without imposing restrictions that may lead to the demise of yet another High Street in this country. We are all making our businesses Covid-19 secure and will promote social distancing amongst our customers and outside.

Welwyn Village is fairly unique in its make-up of shops, pubs, restaurants, estate agents, hair, beauty and specialist businesses. The cross-fertilisation of footfall from one business to another has always been one of the main reasons for its ability to survive. We know from previous experience that reduction in parking and the necessity to negotiate the bypass for some journeys means that potential customers often simply decide to go elsewhere and footfall is lost, leading to a downturn in revenue which in these difficult times will be catastrophic.

We ask you to think again and support us in trying to get back on our feet.

Yours sincerely,

Belinda Walsingham, Box of Delights, 24 High Street
Susan Bull, SuSu, 21 High Street
Mick Leto, The Barbers Room, 30 High Street
Howard Hill, Hill & Co Violin Shop, 5 High Street
Matheus Gomes, Vita Ristorante, 12 High Street
Wendy Rowley, Welwyn Florist, 29 High Street
Dennis, Katie, Chris & Phill Dinsdale, Katie’s Bakery, 3 High Street
Tricia Conroy Smith, Off Broadway Travel, 18/20 Prospect Place
Filippo Mazzarella, Aqua Restaurant, 28 High Street
Adam Richardson, The White Horse, 30 Mill Lane
Dan Tubbs, The Wellington, 1 High Street
Steven Hastings & Jenny Havill, Lemon Plaice, 21 Church Street
Gill Ewing, Simmons Bakers, 34 High Street
Peter Morgan, Peter Morgan Hairdressing, 4 Codicote Road
Martin Bishop, Bryan Bishop Estate Agent, 6a High Street

Dawn Somerville, Essie & Betsy, 12 Church Street
Tanya Thanyaphon East, Thai Legacy Therapy, 27 High Street
Morwenna McDonald, Welwyn Osteopathy, 27 High Street
Gill Buszmanning, Comfy Soles Chiropody , 27 High Street
Kelvin Dean, Old Welwyn Clinic, 27 High Street
Deniz Gentle, Headmistress Hairdressing, 10 Church Street
Jay Miah, Taj Mahal Restaurant, 2 High Street
Claire Austin, Austin’s Funerals, 16 High Street
Laura Moyes, Laura Kate, 15 High Street
James Bainbridge, The White Hart, 2 Prospect Place
Lisa Green, Belvoir Estate & Lettings Agents, 9 High Street
Marianne Hawes, Danesbury & QVM Charity Shop, 4 High Street
Gobind Singh Lidhar, XO Wine Merchants, 6 High Street

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)


In your hands – the Future for Singlers Marsh

What is the future for Singlers Marsh?

Singlers Marsh was formed during the Ice Age. The glaciers more or less stopped at the Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire borders. But the rocks, soil and sediment they pushed before them created the chalk hills of the Chilterns, from which the River Mimram flows, and the Mimram valley.

The Past

1904 Postcard from Singlers Bridge along the Codicote Road

The Mimram was a much wider, deeper river than it is now and Singlers Marsh was part of the flood plain, where the river could expand into several channels when the water levels rose – helping to protect Welwyn from flooding.

The marshy, fertile meadows or ‘medes’ were excellent for grazing animals, but not surprisingly marked on old maps as ‘Likely to flood’. There are tales of swimming and boating on the Mimram, skating on the marsh when it iced over and tug of war matches ‘across the Mimram’ – when the losers got wet.

The Drain flooded

The Present

When the Link Road was built in the 60’s, sadly the resulting clay spoil was allowed to be tipped onto the Marsh, creating a domed effect, thus removing its effectiveness as a flood plain! However, it was then seeded. 1969 saw Welwyn Rural District Council buying the marsh from Three Valleys Water and in 1973 they made the historic decision to create Singlers Marsh into a nature reserve, with the lovely quote, reported in the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “We sincerely hope this spot will become a restful retreat for those who want to spend a few hours away from the crowds”.

A Hot Spell June 2020

Welwyn RDC then handed ownership on to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC), who have registered it as a ‘Local Nature Reserve’. Now much used as a safe place by walkers, the Guides, school, dog walkers, family picnics and of course the Welwyn Festival Fun Runs and Fun Day. During the Covid lockdown it has been used very regularly for everyone’s exercise and, during the hot weather, loads of socially-distanced’ picnics.

Welwyn Fun Day 2013 & the Duck Race

The Future

But despite the classification as a ‘Local Nature Reserve’ this gives little protection from development. Last year WHBC readily gave permission for part of the Marsh to be used in a road and bridge widening scheme to support the proposed housing developments around the cemetery. 959 people signed a petition to stop this being done and, at the moment, this proposal has not been included in the latest Local Plan submission, but we have yet to hear the Inspector’s final decision.

So how can we protect this beautiful space for us and generations to come?

Well, there are two possibilities:

  1. We can try to get it ‘Village Green’ status, which has a much higher level of protection. This was tried a few years ago but was stymied by the landowner WHBC. Anyone can make this application and one is currently underway at https://www.protectthemarsh.co.uk/. However, it usually needs the support of the landowner to be successful. So could we persuade Welwyn Parish Council to buy the land? And then there is a vested interest to get this greater level of protection.

  2. Welwyn Parish has voted to develop a Neighbourhood Plan which is your vision of what Welwyn should be like in the next 15-20 years, primarily in terms of house planning and infrastructure. When approved, it has some ‘teeth’ with planning decisions.  Part of the Plan is what should be protected both in terms of architecture, green belt, open spaces – and our three nature reserves. Developing this Plan will start with a questionnaire which everyone will receive. This will be your chance to say how important Singlers Marsh is to you.

Your WPAG is involved with both these projects, but we will need your support when the time comes.

Enjoy Singlers Marsh now. And let’s do our best to protect it for years to come.