AGM for the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group postponed to January 2021

Due to a change in our reporting year, the Charity Commission has agreed that the AGM should be postponed to January 2021.

The date will be announced as soon as possible.

If you would like to attend, please email the Chairman, Sandra Kyriakides Saunders at for your invitation with the link to the Zoom meeting.

(Zoom is free to use video meeting website and the link will take you directly to the meeting)

We look forward to seeing you there.

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 – Plea for Consultation from Revd. Dr David Munchin

Open Letter to Hertfordshire County Council

I am writing as the Rector of St Mary’s Welwyn and on behalf of nearly all of the traders in Welwyn village who have signed the attached letter (Ed. see separate Post) about the COVID19 restrictions. I should also add that after the final draft, Austin’s funeral directors, another important local business, wrote to say that they would wish to be included.

Whilst we understand that there was pressure to make quick decisions and that public safety was paramount, we also know that now you are looking to revise arrangements on a semi-permanent basis. As the photograph demonstrates, footfall is now so low in the village that the present measures in place are clearly disproportionate. Therefore as the letter states, we would like to see full consultation with local stakeholders including traders, and a major scaling back of the measures.

If I might add by own alliterative contribution, there are three other concerns: buses, beer and bicycles.

Whichever way the one way system goes, many people, including most of our elderly residents, rely on buses to access the village and its services. They cannot be dropped off half a mile from the doctors surgery, for instance – this needs to be thought through.

Brewery lorries need to access the village (historically Welwyn owes its existence to the coaching inns). In particular a south bound one-way along Mill Lane would mean beer could simply not get to the White Horse, and would make it difficult for other pubs.

Perhaps more personally, any one-way system should make proper provision for cyclists. At the moment I can ride from the church to my house and church school at the other end of the High Street – 200 yards on a village road. Without proper provision this would become nearly a mile along the incredibly busy by pass, three roundabouts, including a ¾ turn at the ‘Clock’ roundabout entrance to the A1M. Hundreds of commuting cyclists use this route, and the risk of a rush hour accident would be very high.

Thank you for reading this. We understand that there are difficult decisions to make, but do be in touch if we can help with on the ground meetings. We are in touch with all the traders and could easily pull a consultation meeting together to help you with your planning.

Yours

David Munchin,

The Rev’d Dr. David Munchin,

Team Rector of Welwyn,

www.welwyn.org.uk

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)

CHAIRMAN, WELWYN PLANNING & AMENITY GROUP

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.

    OR
  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.

The Draft Local Plan – site allocations

Comments and Response to the Consultation on the proposed changes to the submitted Draft Local Plan 2016 (site allocations) 2020, submitted on behalf of the Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group

WPAG’s comments fall into three parts.

Part 1 – Comments on the overall Draft Local Plan

We agree with the approach taken in revising the Draft Local Plan at the end of January 2020.  The consistent application of this approach’s guiding principles across all proposed developments in the borough is welcomed by WPAG.

We note that the nature of the Local Plan process is such that the development merits or drawbacks of individual sites are considered in detail, whereas the wider implications of a development site on surrounding areas (such as the ability to deliver supporting infrastructure by agencies other than WHBC) are only assessed in broad terms.  It is vital, therefore, that these wider implications are assessed realistically and sufficiently as part of the assessment for each site in the Local Plan.

Those sites for which it is feasible to provide adequate and sustainable infrastructure, as well as passing the other tests inherent in assessing the Local Plan, should be taken forward into the Plan.  Such infrastructure should be deliverable by all its various agencies in keeping with the growing needs of the site as it develops – ie not retrospectively after the end of the development, leaving new residents waiting for it to be delivered.  It should be sympathetic to the needs of its community, both existing and new – WHBC communities are well established and often steeped in history, with strong community identities too, and they should not be provided with inappropriate, insensitive new infrastructure.

Where supporting infrastructure cannot be delivered in a timely manner, or in a form that is relevant to the existing community style and ethos, then that should be a strong reason to reject any new site advanced into the Draft Local Plan.

Part 2a – Sites Wel1, Wel2, Wel6 and Wel15 in Welwyn – Direct comments

These four sites (Wel1, Wel2, Wel6 and Wel15) were not selected for the revised Draft Local Plan, but they were originally offered in the Call for Sites and were considered suitable for allocation by WHBC officers, and so they were submitted to the CPPP meetings in January 2020.  They are still mentioned in Appendix 1 of the submitted Draft Local Plan, and we wish to note several points of concern regarding how these sites are still regarded positively within the process.

We consider the original selection of these four sites to have been inappropriate, and that the assessments of these sites were neither sound nor legal for the following reasons.  The assessment makes it clear that these four sites are only viable if taken together as a bloc.  We have objections both to each site individually (this section), and together (next section).

Looked at individually, the Sustainability Appraisals in the Site Selection assessment (2019) for these four sites contain substantial errors.

For Wel1 and Wel2, under “Significant positives” in the Sustainability Appraisal, it is claimed that issues 4.2 (“Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transport”) and 4.3 (“Helping to avoid/reduce air pollution”) are both addressed by the sites being “within 400m of four bus stops providing a six day a week service.”  We believe that there are no such bus stops within 400m of any point on these sites.  It appears that this assessment may have incorrectly copied its assertions from other promoted development sites for which they are true (eg Wel 6 and Wel15 are within 400m of bus stops on nearby Codicote Road).  Alternatively, they may be referring to ad hoc bus stops within the Hawbush area of the village which provide small-scale shopping transport to Welwyn Garden City only three times each week – the roads around these bus stops cannot accommodate a full-size bus, and there are not even any physical bus stops in Hawbush.  If so, what the assessment fails to mention is that these bus stops have a total of three timetabled services over the course of an entire week, and this is not a bus service that could be used to ease private car traffic from these developments.  Hence it is incorrect to state that this constitutes a “significantly positive” contribution to these promoted sites’ sustainability.

For each of Wel1, Wel2 and Wel15, issue 6.6 (“Provision of training, skills development and lifelong learning”) in the site selection assessment’s sustainability appraisal is supported by stating that each site “is within walking distance of education establishments”.  The only such establishment (in the singular) is Welwyn St Mary’s Primary School, which provides children’s primary education but neither training, skills development nor lifelong learning in any obvious sense.

For Wel15, the response under “Significant negatives” issue 4.5 (“Conservation/enhancement of the borough’s character, historic environment, and heritage/cultural assets”) fails to make any mention of the major archaeological significance of this site.  Hertfordshire County Council’s experts and the professional archaeological community agree that this location is the likely heart of the original Roman and pre-Roman (Iron Age) settlement that underpins Welwyn’s 2000+ years of history and continual settlement.  The Site Selection assessment makes no mention of this very significant factor against development of Wel15.

WPAG believes that these errors and omissions should be recorded for these four locations, and should be fully considered if the sites are ever brought forward again for development consideration.

Part 2b – Sites Wel1, Wel2, Wel6 and Wel15 in Welwyn – Combined effect on Singlers Marsh

These four sites were considered together as a bloc in the 8th January 2020 WHBC proposals when justifying the proposed changes to the nearby road network to support the additional vehicle traffic arising from these sites.  In the 2019 consultation process, submissions were requested from various statutory, advisory and voluntary bodies about the direct effect of developing each individual site on its own natural environment.  The proposed Draft Local Plan (8th January 2020) assessed these four sites together when considering road network capacity.  Together, it was felt that they warranted widening a stretch of Fulling Mill Lane and replacing the existing Singlers Bridge.  As well as losing the bridge’s charming period character, widening the bridge and the road would have had to be made at the expense of the neighbouring Singlers Marsh, which it was confirmed would yield up some land to accommodate the widened infrastructure.

It is our belief that the possibility of developing part of Singlers Marsh and replacing Singlers Bridge (in order to widen Fulling Mill Lane to provide access to these four sites) was not consulted upon. We have seen no evidence that Opinions from the various organisations that would have a view about the effect of such development were either sought out, or otherwise provided.

In the CPPP session held on 23rd January 2020, during the Q&A session with the borough councillors, Cllr Thusu asked Colin Haigh (WHBC Head of Planning) about residents’ concerns regarding the proposal to widen the lane at the expense of the marsh and the bridge, and whether there had been any consultation with wildlife bodies about it (this question can be seen at 1 hour 39 minutes into the webcast recording of the session, as available on the WHBC website).  Mr Haigh responded (at 1 hour 42 minutes into the recording), saying “We would have consulted key ecological bodies – the Environment Agency, Natural England, and various others: Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Hertfordshire Ecology and other local bodies on our database.  And in terms of the regulatory and the statutory bodies (Environment Agency, Natural England side of things) there was nothing particular said that gave us cause that something couldn’t be done in that regard.

The proposal to widen the lane was not included in the 2019 consultation, and was only revealed when the Draft Local Plan was published on 8th January of this year.  It is not obvious how those bodies’ opinions about a January 2020 proposal could have been sought during the 2019 consultation.  Following Mr Haigh’s statement, WPAG made a Freedom of Information request of WHBC to reveal any consultations that had taken place about the proposed widening of the lane at the expense of the marsh and bridge.  WHBC’s response to this FOI request referred only to the responses to the 2019 consultation.

On this evidence, WPAG feels it must therefore conclude that no such consultation actually took place.

Singlers Marsh is formally designated as both a Wildlife Site and a Local Nature Reserve.  The Mimram river which flows through it is a globally rare chalk stream which is known to host an increasingly precarious ecological system.  In fact, the river has dried up twice in the past fifteen years, and is currently still recovering from the most recent such event – we understand that the Environment Agency are not planning to restore rescued fish to the river until 2021 to allow sufficient time to recover from that 2019 drought.  Singlers Marsh also borders the presumed centre of the Roman-era settlement from which the village of Welwyn has grown over the past 2,000 years.  It is therefore of interest to the archaeological community in its own right.  In addition, it received a substantial amount of land spoil from the cutting that was made when nearby Link Road was built – archaeologists now recognise that this spoil will have contained a large amount of archaeological remains from Roman Welwyn, and possibly the Iron Age era that preceded the Roman settlement.

On Fulling Mill Lane itself, by the road junction with Riverside at OS grid reference TL 2294 1643, is a piece of World War 2 archaeology, in the form of a partially buried concrete mortar emplacement (as described on the Archaeology Data Service’s website at https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/dob/ai_full_r.cfm?refno=13405).  The ADS is a key UK agency concerned with the preservation of digital records of the historic environment, and its records are referenced internationally by the heritage community.

It appears that none of this rich natural, environmental, archaeological and historical heritage has been considered at all in preparing the 8th January 2020 proposal to widen Fulling Mill Lane in order to provide access to these four possible development sites.

In WPAG’s opinion, it is imperative that all of this be noted on the record, and that it be fully taken into account before any future attempt is made to revive any development possibilities for any site near to Singlers Marsh.  In the absence of any consultations about these matters, it seems clear that any proposal to develop any part of Singlers Marsh or Singlers Bridge, or to modify Fulling Mill Lane, would be neither sound nor legally compliant with the planning process.

Moreover, the entirety of Singlers Marsh is a much loved public amenity enjoyed by a great many local residents, and it plays host to popular community events every year.  During the current coronavirus lockdown, access to its open land surrounded by fields and low density housing has never been more enjoyed in living memory.  Singlers Marsh is also the only place along the entire course of the Mimram where it flows through public land – nowhere else can the members of the public enjoy its riverside setting for themselves.  The immense value and pleasure that the local community gains from having Singlers Marsh at its heart in its current extensive form in a tranquil and peaceful location must not be lightly discounted.

Many residents in Welwyn have expressed their concern at WHBC’s proposal to develop Singlers Marsh without consultation, and several petitions have been successfully raised against this possibility.  A good way to restore residents’ confidence in the future of their public land would be for WHBC to transfer both ownership and stewardship of it to Welwyn Parish Council, and to seek to protect it for the future by supporting an application for it to receive Village Green status.

We trust that all the points in this submission will be recorded against the current promoted development sites around Singlers Marsh, and also be readily available for consideration against any future proposals that might arise in this area.

In WPAG’s opinion, for all the reasons stated in this document, development of none of these sites around Singlers Marsh would be either sound or legally compliant.

Russell Haggar

Vice Chair, Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group

The River Mimram – life starts to return?

Fish were rescued as the River Mimram dried up last autumn. Now, with the very wet February and March, the river is full and flowing faster than it has done for years. Clear water bubbling along and clearing some of the silt which has built up over time starting to reveal the gravel bed of a chalk stream. The river is fed by the underground aquifer and the chart shows the highest level of groundwater for several years. (On the chart, the Green band is Average)

However, all the ‘river life’ was either rescued or died last autumn, so it looks pretty dead. The Environment Agency (EA) expect it to take three or four years for ‘river life’ to return to normal. (Does this sound familiar?) The hope is that fish will migrate downstream from parts of the river that did not dry out, such as the mill pond towards Kimpton.

So the plan is to conduct a series of ‘electro’ fish surveys throughout the year to see if the fish do return. To do this they hold a ‘wand’ with a low electric current in the water, which stuns the fish long enough for them to be counted and measured without doing them any harm.

The first of these surveys was done recently and, while they didn’t find much, they did find several bullhead fish – a start. And some tadpoles!

If the fish population does not recover over the next few years, they will restock the river with breeding fish.

However, in 2020 it seems to be one extreme or the other, in April we only got 24% of the average effective rainfall and May looks likely to be the driest May on record. Already the river level is starting to drop……

Bullhead Fish

STOP PRESS – Welwyn High Street

THE WELWYN PLANNING & AMENITY GROUP ARE AWARE OF YOUR CONCERNS

OUR SHOPS ARE COMING BACK.  PLEASE SUPPORT THEM – OR WE MAY LOSE THEM, AND THE VIBRANT ECONOMY OF OUR VILLAGE.

WITH REGARD TO THE CHANGES TO THE TRAFFIC FLOW IN THE HIGH STREET, WPAG IS AWARE THAT “ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL” and is concerned at the effect these changes will make on residents and businesses.

WPAG will be closely monitoring the situation.  We will liaise with Herts CC and WPC and try to ensure arising issues are resolved.

Please note that the changes are temporary.  The initial trial is for 21 days from 25th May.  This is, however, likely to be extended, dependent upon government guidelines.

RESIDENTS PLEASE LET US KNOW:

  • What problems you are directly experiencing due to the changes
  • Whether the changes have made you feel safer on the High Street
  • Any modifications that you feel would improve the situation

BUSINESSES – PLEASE LET US KNOW

  • If you are currently operating, has footfall in your business dropped since the changes were implemented?  By approximately how much?
  • If you are due to open, how you feel the changes might affect your business?
  • Any modifications that you feel would improve the situation

Email:

WPAG feels that this temporary scheme can work if there is adequate co-operation, consultation and communication from those running it.

Indeed, the village has coped admirably until now and the few shops that will reopen may not affect the footfall in the village enough to warrant the current amount of disruption.

WHY ARE THESE CHANGES HAPPENING?

In preparation for the reopening of some of our shops and businesses, Central Government has provided funds to local councils to deploy measures that will:

  • Provide space to pedestrians
  • Allow people to use our high streets safely
  • Queue safely outside shops
  • Pass each other at a suitable distance.

Such measures have been actioned throughout the UK where the existing footway width does not allow people to keep 2 metres apart.

The measures now temporarily in place have taken space away from vehicular traffic in order to enable people to keep 2m apart, in line with official guidelines.

Traffic flows are currently lower than historic trends, whilst both pedestrian and cycle usage have increased, many people are continuing to work from home and public transport usage patterns have all changed.  The new measures will be kept under review to check they are operating as intended and, as necessary, adapted to a changing situation.

FOR GENERAL INFORMATION

The following extract is from Public Health England’s statement on the Gov.UK website:

Coronaviruses can be spread when people with the virus have close, sustained contact with people who are not infected. This typically means spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person, such as talking to someone for instance. 

So, passing someone quickly in the street would not appear to pose any risk, whereas chatting in a queue less than 2metres apart would.

NHS advice posted on 26/05/2020 was that masks/face coverings should be worn in shops, crowded areas and on public transport.

We can also take encouragement from the fact that, in terms of risk, the infection rate in the East of England is very low in comparison with other areas. 

Sandra Kyriakides/Saunders

Chairman, Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

Hertfordshire County Council – Future Transport Plans – consultation

(Ed. In David Cheek’s Post of 22nd March 2020 you were briefed on the Hertfordshire County Council’s (HCC) Consultation on future transport plans, which was scheduled to close on 31st March 2020).

Working with the Welwyn Parish Council, and the Welwyn Parish Plan Group, your Committee studied those sections relevant to Welwyn and we contributed to the submission produced by the WPC.

We re-produce below the Introduction to the WPC Submission for your convenience.

We expect that the full WPC submission on this Consultation, which is very lengthy, will be published shortly on the WPC website.

Welwyn Parish Council 

1. INTRODUCTION 

Welwyn Parish Council is pleased to offer comment within the consultation process, on this important piece of strategic planning. 

Welwyn civil parish has three main settlements, separated from each other by fields and woodlands of the green belt: the settlement of Oaklands & Mardley Heath and the villages of Digswell and Welwyn. The parish is largely residential but small businesses and farmsteads are scattered throughout. Residents and businesses benefit from post office facilities and a mix of shops in all three areas and a wide range of amenities: a primary school in each area (the secondary schools are in WGC or further afield); the Welwyn Community Library; Welwyn has 3 churches, Digswell has 2 and both have Village Halls used for recreation, sport and social events. 

Soccer and cricket pitches in Welwyn, owned and maintained by the parish council, are used by clubs from within the Parish and further afield; there are tennis clubs at Welwyn and Digswell, a bowls club at Welwyn and children’s play areas in Welwyn and Digswell. There are many open spaces and local nature reserves with rural footpaths, providing for informal recreation as well as local wildlife. With a population of over 9000, our Parish is relatively large; it is highly regarded as a place for families to live and house prices and the buoyant property market reflect that. 

Comments on the GTP have been co-ordinated under the aegis of the which included: 

• Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group – WPAG – formed over 60 years ago, to encourage, and coordinate public interest in all issues concerning Planning and Amenities in and around Welwyn) 

Welwyn Parish Plan Group – WPPG – who compiled the current Parish Plan in 2008 which sought to represent the wishes and ideas of the community in Digswell, Oaklands & Mardley Heath and Welwyn, propose a strategy to show what we should aim to achieve. It has been used to help drive change and as a reference to influence policy 

Individual residents. 

The Working Group has also encouraged residents to make their own responses to this consultation. 

The majority of the detail relating to Welwyn Parish is contained in the South Central Growth & Transport Plan; only one project (PR27) in the North Central GTP is relevant to Welwyn but it should be noted that SM93 (in the NC Plan) duplicates the detail of SM98 (in the SC Plan), albeit with a different and arguably misleading title. The following sections offer comments on the various schemes that impact upon our parish area.