The Project Manager Reports – Welwyn’s Heritage Trail

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.

Sandra Kyriakides – Project Manager

The Project Manager Reports – Van Gogh – a Project Update

The following report was posted by Sandra Kyriakides

VAN GOGH PROJECT

You will all be aware of the role of WPAG in bringing the Van Gogh bust to the village. (See  the earlier post)

The sculptor, Anthony Padgett, has since suggested that the places that receive one of his Van Gogh bust donations (including Welwyn) might like to form a link with one another.

We have therefore been in communication with the Municipal Council of Arles, (Van Gogh’s home town in France) who have voted to accept Anthony’s kind offer.  They have been reminded of our (Welwyn) bust and suggested they might consider forming a cultural link with Welwyn in relation to our shared interest and history with Van Gogh.

The President of the Van Gogh Association, Vincent Ramon has written confirming that they would very much like to do this.

Anthony Padgett’s latest installation of Van Gogh sculpture work was unveiled in Brixton on 17th November.   (See The Art Newspaper)

The story of the project and photos of the bust of Vincent Van Gogh was in the national press Sunday Telegraph (a big half page photo) on 25th November.  It gives some excellent publicity for the Van Gogh Walk and the sculpture – and marked the event on a national level.  Welwyn was mentioned.

WPAG will be liaising with administrators at all sites with a view to establishing a link between all of them and ourselves.

The whole project is quite exciting and there will be a Tate Britain exhibition of Van Gogh’s work in March 2019.   We are in contact with Martin Bailey, the curator, to explore the possibility of including a reference to the Welwyn connection.

 

The Project Manager Reports – 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 ku.gr1547600013o.gap1547600013w@reg1547600013anamt1547600013cejor1547600013p1547600013

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

 

The Project Manager Reports – 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.

 

London Luton Airport – Expansion Consultation

Luton Airport is planning a major expansion.

A Consultation Paper did not reach the Welwyn Parish Council (WPC) until 25th June 2018 with responses required by 31st August, leaving precious little time to study the associated papers and to respond.

As WPAG are co-opted members of the WPC Planning Committee we have been invited to contribute to their response.

However, the dates of scheduled WPC meetings puts pressure on the time left to respond, and the WPAG Committee will therefore prepare a separate WPAG group response.

The Consultation Documents

To read the Main Consultation Paper go to Consultation Paper and for a Summary go to Consultation Summary. Other associated documents include the Feedback Form

These are weighty papers and the WPC Briefing Paper (copied below), is recommended reading for its comparative brevity.

Individual WPAG members who would like to add thoughts and comments, are encouraged to respond directly to the Consultation.

Briefing Paper for the Welwyn Parish Council Planning Committee

The following Briefing Paper has been prepared by Cllr Bill Morris, Chair of WPC and is reproduced here as it provides a very helpful guide which will be of help to WPAG members.

Background

WPC first became aware of this consultation at their 25th June meeting.  Luton Borough Council (whose company – London Luton Airport Limited – own the airport) are consulting with those whose opinions they seek and who may be affected, about their proposals to expand the airport further and a series of public meetings has been drawn up.  The consultation runs until 31 August, with a series of 17 consultation events taking place in and around Luton between 9 July and 4 August. At these events everyone will have the opportunity to view the plans, speak to members of the expert project team, and provide feedback.  The meeting for our locality was to be held on 10 July at Oaklands College WGC from 1400 to 2000.  Given the lack of open advertisement or direct contact and our late discovery of the event, no WPC representative could attend.  Other venues and times are given on their website and members may wish to attend a more remote event.

The website contains a lot of information including proposals, consultation format and a response booklet:  https:/www.luton.gov.uk/news/Pages/Consultation-gets-under-way-on-potential-expansion-of-London-Luton-Airport.aspx

Given that much of the village, Digswell and Oaklands are under the flight paths, many residents (assuming they were aware) may have concerns.  In addition to the obvious air and noise pollution issues, there are also infrastructure questions concerning travelling both to and from the airport and the airport layout itself, when such an expansion is being considered.The Planning & Licensing Committee is invited to consider the issue and this outline reply, with regard to submission to WPC at their July meeting.  The consultation ends on 31 August, with a further round in 2019.

Proposals

Luton Airport is growing faster than predicted and is now the fifth busiest airport in the UK. At its current rate of growth, Luton is forecast to reach its existing permitted capacity of 18 million passengers per annum (mppa) in 2021.  The Council believe it may be possible to handle up to 36-38 mppa (i.e. doubling the throughput.  The major reasons for doing this, as given by the Council are:

  • There is an opportunity for Luton to play a substantially greater role in the UK aviation market, notwithstanding the proposal for a third runway at Heathrow and the proposed expansion at Stansted. (“Why not us”?)
  • Initial estimates are than there could be an increase of up to 800 new jobs for each additional million passengers per year travelling through Luton and an annual boost to the regional economy of £76m. (“Let’s see the calculations and if Herts and a village such as ours really benefits”)
  • The contribution of an expanded Luton to Beds, Bucks and Herts could reach up to £2.6bn and support up to 42,000 jobs. (as per previous statement).

Essentially this all boils down to developing the site to be able to handle a doubling in passenger numbers and presumably in aircraft numbers (large jets are the most significant, the extensive and lucrative private jet market is important but insignificant in these terms.)  This in turn means expansion or re-arranging of: runway(s), terminal building(s), aircraft hangers (servicing/repairs etc.), inter-communication within the airport and passenger transport infrastructure outside the airport and beyond.

[1] Prepared by Bill Morris, Chair WPC, following a request from Colin Hukin, Chair P&L Committee.  The author has lived in Welwyn (near QVM Hospital) for over 32 years, has flown in and out of Luton Airport on business and pleasure all of that time and still continues to do so for pleasure, twice a year.  His home is also under the westbound landing flight path.

The Project Manager Reports – 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.

The Project Manager Reports – 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.

 

The Project Manager Reports – 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.

 

The Project Manager Reports – 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.