Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan – Housing Site Review

Background

We reported on the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Site Review on May 8th 2019

Following the subsequent production of the WHBC Draft Local Plan which was submitted to the Inspector, and the series of public examinations which followed, the Inspector has asked the WHBC to undertake further work to address areas where he felt that their Draft Local Plan fell short of his requirements.

He called for the WHBC to produce a series of documents for further Examination of which Examination Document EX156 is of great significance to Welwyn, which assesses Welwyn Hatfield’s Landscape Sensitivity, and EX160 which presents a so-called Green Gap Assessment.

The WPAG and the WPC were consulted on both these Examination documents.

The WPAG Response to the WHBC’s Consultation of their Examination Papers

The joint WPC/WPAG Local Plan Working Party was re-called, and a joint Response was penned by Cllr Bill Morris and submitted to the Inspector (direct) by the Clerk to the Welwyn Parish Council.

You are recommended to go to the WHBC Local Planning site where you will be able to read the WPC/WPAG response in full.

Public Examination

The Inspector has since invited all ‘Representers’ to the Draft Local Plan, which includes the WPC/WPAG, to speak to our Response on 17th December 2019 as part of a further series of formal meetings which will examine WHBC’s Housing Needs Forecasts.

Obituary – Alan Plumley – WPAG committee member

It is with much sadness that WPAG report the death of Alan Plumley.

Alan first came to our notice in January 2015 as a volunteer local Charity Hospital Driver working with the CVS Community Car Scheme. He regularly drove our Planning Member, the late Ron Oxley, to monthly Welwyn Parish Council Planning Committee meetings, where Ron Oxley was a co-opted member, and to the weekly Community Cafe, where we discovered that Alan was also driver for other regular attendees there.

Through Ron Oxley’s influence on local Planning issues, Alan developed a keen interest in local affairs, and wanted to help. His wife Val frequently joined him at the Community Cafe, and both of them became key members of the WPAG Committee. Alan was appointed as WPAG Communications Secretary, and Val became WPAG Secretary.

A few years ago, Alan developed Motor Neurone Disease and, as his condition worsened, he had to stop carrying out the voluntary tasks he so much enjoyed, and Val had to retire as WPAG Secretary to care for him. Indeed, Alan’s work for WPAG on communications and planning information is greatly missed, along with his smile and his always cheerful disposition.

Alan’s funeral will be held at Harwood Park, Watton Rd, Datchworth, Stevenage SG2 8XT on Wednesday 2nd October at 1:15pm. 

Welwyn Parish Directory

Everything Within for Residents of Welwyn Parish

The Welwyn Parish Plan Group has been publishing its Directory regularly over the past decade, this is the sixth edition.

Hard copies are available at the Community Café, at Bridge Cottage, in the Library and at the Danesbury/QVM shop. It can be accessed on line, as here and on the Parish Council website.

Go to Parish Directory

Ian Skidmore, Chairman of the Parish Plan Group, reports “I saw a notice in a hardware shop window in a High Street recently that said:

“If we don’t have it you don’t need it”

While we do call this “Everything Within” we do that with our fingers crossed. If you think there is something we need to add please let us know via . We can then update the online version although the hard copy will have to wait for the next edition.

We hope you find this useful

Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan – Site Review

SITES FOR AN EXTRA 4000 HOUSES HAVE TO BE FOUND.

The following Introductory paragraphs are taken from the WHBC website.

The Draft Local Plan sets out the long-term planning framework for the borough, identifying how much and what type of development is needed, where it should or should not be located and whether any key infrastructure needs to be delivered, such as primary and secondary schools. Once adopted, the Local Plan will shape the future of the borough for at least 15 years ahead.

The Draft Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for examination in May 2017. An independent planning inspector, Melvyn Middleton BA(Econ), DipMgmt, MRTPI,  was appointed to consider the soundness of the submitted plan.

The draft plan contains sites for 12,000 homes but the housing need is currently acknowledged to be about 16,000 homes to 2033.

As the plan does not meet the objectively assessed need for housing in full, the Inspector has asked the council to investigate if there is any scope for additional housing sites to be identified. 

CALL FOR SITES 2019

Having taken the Inspector’s comments into account, the council decided to carry out a Call for (more) Sites.

The Call for Sites took place between 7th January and 4th February 2019. Over 140 sites were promoted for either housing, employment, mixed use or other forms of development.  

Consultation on the new sites that are being promoted by landholders has now started and instructions on how to respond are on the WHBC website.

Responses to this Consultation have to be with the WHBC by 5pm on 18th June 2019.

All the promoted sites across the Borough can be studied on their website.

WPAG ACTION PLAN

The Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group (WPAG) were members of the Local Plan Working Party set up by the Welwyn Parish Council (WPC) in 2017.

In the past 24 hours the WPAG has encouraged the WPC to re-call that Working Party to prepare a response to the new list of Promoted sites.

WELWYN PARISH – PROMOTED SITES

For your ease of access, we list below the new sites being promoted for Welwyn Parish, including other neighbouring sites which have the potential to significantly affect Welwyn, should they be selected.

We do not as yet express our views on these sites, which have to be studied in depth.

It is perhaps necessary to remind you that the sites previously accepted for the Draft Local Plan, are still in place – this Consultation is only for the additional sites that the WHBC are now looking at, which have been promoted as a result of the Call for Sites 2019.

WELWYN PARISH, AND NEARBY, PROMOTED SITES

To find the Promoted Sites, please go to the following links to the Borough website.

WELWYN – 2019 Promoted sites

RURAL NORTH – 2019 Promoted sites

OAKLANDS & MARDLEY HEATH – 2019 Promoted sites

DIGSWELL – 2019 Promoted sites

WOOLMER GREEN – 2019 Promoted sites

Cash – Don’t Throw it Away

The Commercial Case

The whole village was shocked when we learned that Barclays Bank was to remove their ATM in Church Street, when the Branch itself closed (‘for commercial reasons’) on 29th March 2019.

High level meetings were organised with our MP and senior representatives of the Bank to try to get the Bank to change their minds.

Perhaps we could negotiate?

But the 29th June proved to be an inauspicious date for anybody with the word ‘negotiate’ in their minds!

Who are the Losers?

It isn’t just retailers, businesses and others, particularly the elderly, who used the Bank branch on a regular basis, and who are left high and dry when it comes to meeting their normal banking needs. Just about everybody is now left with the need to make alternative arrangements to meet their need for cash.

At a Parish Council meeting, one Councillor famously suggested that villagers without a car could catch a bus up London Road to the BP garage to use their ATM! No further comment is needed on that one.

But some 1,184 local people signed a petition organised by Christina Raven saying that they wanted to keep an ATM, and it is on that basis that a few things are happening.


The Welwyn Parish Council Response

The Welwyn Parish Council have agreed in principle that the only practical alternate site in Welwyn Village would be at the Civic Centre in Prospect Place, and they await the results of a special Barclays Bank survey to learn if the Bank will agree.

The Parish Council also arranged for the Bank to use the Interview Room in St Mary’s Church House, on Tuesday mornings when the Hall is open for the Community Cafe, which has a regular assembly of many elderly villagers. But this is not for cash transactions.

The Barclays Response

The Bank survey of the Civic Centre site can be expected to cover many aspects including access and security for Bank Staff, (who have to service the machine), and for Bank customers themselves because the site could be considered vulnerable, even though perhaps no less vulnerable than the original site in Church Street.

Tesco Stores Response

Tesco Store in the High Street is the only other alternative option should the more favoured Civic Centre be adjudged ‘unsuitable’ either by the Parish Council or by Barclays Bank. Tesco management are still considering the prospect of using their Store, but there are clearly serious issues that they would have to address.

Your Response – Have your Say

So, in anticipation of a decision (yet to be forthcoming from Barcays) how will the Parish Council decide whether the Civic Centre site is ‘suitable’ in their eyes?

The fact that 1184 villagers signed the Petition to say that they want to keep an ATM in Welwyn would seem to be a clear enough message – but the Parish Council needs to be convinced.

The Welwyn Parish Council are therefore to raise the question at their Annual Parish Assembly on Wednesday evening 17th April, which starts at 7.30 pm. at the Welwyn Civic Centre.

So – if you have strong views on the matter, whether or not you signed the Petition, you are encouraged to attend the Welwyn Parish Council Annual Assembly on Wednesday 17th April 2019 to voice your views.

Water Water everywhere but (perhaps) not a drop to drink?

The following is extracted from papers produced by Affinity Water.

Within the next five years and beyond there may not be enough water to meet increases in demand, unless we make some changes.

Affinity Water have recently completed a Public Consultation to ensure that there is enough water for future generations. They now invite you to respond to their revised draft Water Resources Management Plan (dWRMP) further consultation.

Doing nothing is not an option.

We need to act now to ensure there is enough for future generations. Affinity Water plans include:

  • Helping customers reduce their water usage
  • Fixing even more leaks
  • Further improving rare chalk streams
  • Building a new reservoir to store water
  • Transferring water from another area via an existing canal
  • Working with other water companies to solve the challenge.

Affinity Water need your views to help shape our service to you. Their consultation period runs from 1 March – 26 April 2019.

Go to the Consultation Document and have your say on our plans to meet this challenge! Affinity Water really do want to hear your views.

Click here to have your say – it will only take a few minutes

The Project Manager Reports – Banking in the Village

The outside the bank photo shows L – R :  Cllr Tony Kingsbury (Leader Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council), Sandra Kyriakides (Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group), Grant Shapps MP, Jane Carr (St Mary’s Church), Delene Miller (Welwyn Post Office)

The outside the bank photo shows L – R :  Cllr Tony Kingsbury (Leader Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council), Sandra Kyriakides (Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group), Grant Shapps MP, Jane Carr (St Mary’s Church), Delene Miller (Welwyn Post Office)

PRESS RELEASE                                      09 March 2019

WELWYN TO LOSE ITS ONLY BANK AT THE END OF MARCH

Barclays Bank’s scheduled closure will go ahead on 29th March.  This is despite the Petition co-ordinated by Christina Raven, bearing 1184 signatures, which asks that the bank should stay open for a few more years.

At a meeting with Barclays on Friday 8th March, Grant Shapps MP presented the petition on behalf of the community to Donna Hagan-Grenfell, Community Banking Director.  Also present were Cllr Tony Kingsbury, Leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Sandra Kyriakides for the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group, Jane Carr for St Mary’s Church and Delene Miller, proprietor of Welwyn’s Post Office.  Lisa Webb, Barclays Community Relations Officer and Dean Body, Director of Business Banking at Welwyn Garden City were also present.

Grant Shapps spelled out the major issues that the closure of the Bank will create.   These are of great concern to the local community and Mr Shapps asked that Barclays find ways to help the community in the short-term, until long-term solutions are implemented.

Sandra Kyriakides pointed out that the nearest banks to Welwyn are either 4 miles away in Welwyn Garden City or 5 miles away in Stevenage.  This can involve half a day on buses for the elderly and less able, for whom Barclays in Welwyn has been a lifeline for so many years.  She also said that the defibrillator needs to be as near to its current location as possible as this is the part of the village with the highest footfall.  She raised the concern of businesses that operate mainly on a cash basis and the problems they will have.

Dona Hagan expressed a willingness to help on behalf of Barclays.  She was unable to give definitive answers at the meeting but will be seeking approval for the suggestions made and will report back to those present at the meeting as soon as possible.

The meeting was very positive.  Agreement, in principle, was reached for the following:

  1. The ATM machine is to be relocated to a suitable site within Welwyn Village and will be paid for and maintained by Barclays, provided they can do this without incurring a rental charge.  Barclays will endeavour to keep the current machine operational until then.  Grant Shapps stressed that there must be no break in availability of cash provision.
  • The Defibrillator can remain on the wall of the Barclays Bank building until approval for the new site is finalised and Barclays will continue to supply the electrical connection.  This could take some months.   Barclays has agreed to cover the cost of moving and reinstalling the defibrillator.
  •  A Banking Assistance service will be provided by Barclays for as long as is appropriate to those who need help with online banking procedures.  This will be of particular benefit to the older members of the community who are less mobile or unsure of technology.  St Mary’s Church has offered space in Church House to run these sessions on Tuesday mornings when Community Café meets.
  • Businesses that are Barclays customers are invited to contact Dean Body at Welwyn Garden City to discuss arrangements that may be possible for provision and collection of cash, called “Business Collect”.  Dona Hagan also agreed to investigate the possibility of providing this service to the Charity Shop and Church.

Although Barclays’ decision is irreversible and the loss of the bank will be difficult for Welwyn, they are at least listening to the problems that losing the bank will cause to the village and seem to be willing to help.

Our thanks to Grant Shapps MP for his support and to Christina Raven for all her work putting together the Petition, which Barclays say they will acknowledge.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group


Van Gogh – Welwyn’s bust is part of a wide community

The following report has been produced by the sculptor, Anthony Padgett, who provided this photo..

In total there are 7 of the sculptures (each in England, France, Holland and Belgium.

The locations were chosen after careful research into the life of Van Gogh.

Europe mainland:

  • Espace Van Gogh in Arles (to be unveiled on 9th March 2019), France, where Van Gogh lived as an artist 1888-1889 in the Yellow House and where he infamously cut his ear off
  • the Van Gogh Library in Nuenen, Holland, (already sited) where Van Gogh lived at the family home and was an artist 1883-1885
  • in the Borinage in Belgium (to be unveiled 2019) where he was a missionary to the mining community 1878-1879

In the UK – the Four places Vincent lived in the UK:

  • Brixton (already sited) Art Dealer 1873-1875,
  • Isleworth (to be unveiled 16th March) – Teacher 1876
  • Ramsgate (to be unveiled 15th June) – Teacher 1876
  • Welwyn (already sited) – where he walked 100 miles to visit his sister in 1876.

The work coincides with a resurgance of interest in Van Gogh and the blockbuster exhibition at Tate Britain of Van Gogh’s work which will celebrate his time in England.

Anthony (50 years old) said “I have had a life-long interest in art and was struck by how Van Gogh’s work was so unique and distinctive. This made me want to explore his technique and create my own work as a result. I spent a year creating 80 artworks around Vincent as I wanted to engage in his intensity to gain an insight into his life. This was so I would be better placed to create a sculpture that captured some of his personality. When you look into the sculpture’s eyes you get a glimpse into the soul of a deep and intense visionary.”

For further details contact the artist:

Anthony Padgett 0790 2342448


The Project Manager Reports – Pavements and Pathways – a Response

Further to my recent post on Nextdoor, I’ve received a lot of replies complaining about pavements and pathways. I spoke with County Councillor Richard Smith today and he will be happy to help in any way he can. He also suggests that you go onto the Herts CC website: and lodge your complaint, or phone them on 0300 123 4047.

County Councillor Smith also asks that you let him know so that he can push for action where it is needed. I will be passing all the complaints I have received on to him, but many of them do not have full contact addresses and names so it would be helpful for him if you could email him or phone him. Many thanks. Sandra Kyriakides,

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group29 Jan · Welwyn in General