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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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 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.
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”.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The following report was drafted by Sandra Kyriakides
THE WELWYN HERITAGE TRAIL
Welwyn’s Heritage Trail was established a few years ago by the Welwyn Archaelogical Society with Lottery Funding. Sadly, the website has not functioned for some time due to a loss of management, and lack of funding.
Through our active involvement with the Welwyn Parish Council’s Community Engagement Committee, WPAG has stepped in to manage this Project, aided by a generous donation of funds from the Welwyn Parish Plan Group. The aim is to restore this valuable guide to Welwyn’s heritage.
As a result, WPAG is currently working with volunteer local IT designers with the purpose of restoring the Welwyn Heritage Trail early in 2019.
The Danesbury Victorian Fernery and grotto
The Van Gogh Bust
The opportunity will be taken to add two more sites to Welwyn’s Heritage Trail, to inform visitors and direct them to their location.
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.