The Clock Gardens – A Timely Response for Opinions from Local Residents

Whilst listening to local residents at various locations, it became apparent that there are many varying opinions about the new Clock Gardens development. With the use of the social media website, Streetlife, and other forms of communication, many comments were provided and this is just a sample of some of them who corresponded on Streetlife.

Lin W believes that the development is an abomination and cannot understand how developers got approval as it is not in keeping with the surrounding area.

Linda Mc says that it is an ugly development in the wrong place, but also highlighted another major issue regarding traffic problems at rush hour.

One of the other contributors to Streetlife, Chloe, is one of the few that actually like the development and had many comments to make including her view that it is very attractive. She also mentions that it is better than building a nursing home as the local medical staff would not be able to cope with the demand. Her views include the benefit for younger members of our community who have to start somewhere on the housing ladder.

Ian S made an interesting comment about being elbowed out by buy-to-letters if he wished to buy one of the flats. Other comments have indicated that these flats have been mostly bought by buy-to-letters so Chloe’s comment about first time buyers may not ring true here.

Apart from the few who actually like the development, other respondents based their views on a couple of topics including the ugliness of the development, the possible traffic problems that may be caused at peak times and how did the project get approved in the first place?

One comment from a local resident on the way to Stevenage when passing the development was “Living there will be like sleeping on the hard shoulder of the Motorway!

The Clock – the seconds are ticking away.

(For the background to the following critique, see the earlier post A1(M) Improvement).

Those who live in and around Welwyn, and those who regularly pass through Welwyn via the Welwyn By-pass or the B656 Link Road, await anxiously for the builders dust to settle; for the landscaping to finish;2015-09-06 13.07.44-1 and then nervously for the Clock to strike ‘Won’.

But who will be the winners?

We are glad that the eye-sore of the burned-out, derelict, former Hotel site has been cleared, and we are glad that more housing will be made available, and we will welcome the new residents into the Welwyn Community.

But we do not have to be glad about the existing rush-hour traffic chaos on the Clock Roundabout, that can only get worse, nor should we be glad that local residents will feel the effect of over-flow car parking that will inevitably follow once the new flats are completed and occupied.

Borough Councillors have expressed their concerns, and there have been suggestions, including creation of a box to prevent grid-locking on the roundabout, and at the entrance to The Clock too. But we have no news of progress on that front.

And the Danesbury Residents Association’s proposal to place a single traffic-light control on the southern entry to the roundabout as a simple, and relatively cheap solution to reduce the build-up of long queues on both the B656 and the B197, received discouraging sounds from County Highways. “We don’t plan to do that sort of thing”…

Perhaps we are jumping the gun?

Perhaps The Clock will stop?

Unlikely, to say the least.

Planning Application: The Frythe

(The following Report is based upon research and analysis undertaken by Ron Oxley, WPAG Lead Member for Planning Applications).

The Frythe – Approval of Plans to Redevelop

The Frythe, just south west of Welwyn, was sold on 19th December 2010 to the development Company, Land Improvements. Although the 47 acre site is Green Belt land, it presents approximately 29 acres of Brownfield Development opportunity.

Land Improvements is a development company specialising in producing plans, obtaining planning approvals & organising pre-contract site preparation and management of the subsequent construction work.

On 20th December 2012, two years after the sale, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC) granted Full Planning Application to build 196 new homes, (to include Affordable Housing). Agreement was also given to convert the original Victorian mansion into 14 apartments.

The basic layout of the site was approved, with several distinct areas ‘designated’, or marked out, for housing development. Using this approach, eight areas (A to H) have been designated, allowing each to have a distinct identity.

The Planning Application includes the provision of roads and footways, car parking, drainage, pool improvement, soft and hard landscaping, play space and lighting, and a perimeter enclosure.

Demolition of the laboratories and offices is now complete, and the groundwork for roadways and services is under construction, preparatory to the next stage, which will be to draw up building works contracts.

The first market-driven housing completions are expected in the third quarter of 2014, with Affordable Housing following on in parallel with later market-driven completions.

Infrastructure for a Bus Service onto the site will be investigated. Continue reading

Neighbourhood Plans – A Tactical Dilemma

Neighbourhood Plans – a tactical dilemma

The following article by Jon Green was addressed to ANTAS members, and recently published in their Newsletter

With the increasing interest in exploring the pros and cons of pursuing a Neighbourhood Plan a tactical question will soon arise in the civil parish of Welwyn , which spreads over three  physically separate settlements, linked administratively but with distinctly different characters.

The question will be whether to develop smaller and localised Neighbourhood Plans for each settlement which would perhaps bring greater community involvement in preference to a ‘composite’ Plan for the entire parish, which might appear more logical to our Borough Council but risk a weaker identity across our disparate community.

Practical issues such as the attitude of our local authority and the costs of preparation and implementation are clearly likely to be the determining factors, but it will be helpful to learn the views and better still the experience of members who have faced a similar quandary.

Jon Green