Singlers Marsh Action Group

WPAG is pleased to host this page on behalf of the newly-formed Singlers Marsh Action Group.

SMAG first met in April 2021 to explore how to protect Singlers Marsh from any development under possible variations to the upcoming Local Plan. The group consists of members of various residents associations, some members of WPAG, and concerned local residents (including councillors acting in a personal capacity).

Borough Council Elections: May 2021

The following text was sent by SMAG to all four candidates standing for election to the borough council for Welwyn West ward in the May 2021 elections. The candidates were each asked if they would respect the three pledges at the end of the text, should they be elected.

Each candidate agreed with all three pledges. Their detailed responses follow after the text below.

Singlers Marsh Action Group seeks pledges from Welwyn West election candidates to protect Singlers Marsh

Public notice

To: Penny Berrington, Daniel James Carlen, Alan Richard Barry Reimer and Paul Richard Smith

Singlers Marsh is a much-loved nature reserve, wildlife site and recreational area in Welwyn.  It has been used for generations by local residents and visitors, and plays host to major community events each year.

Singlers Marsh is at risk from changes that may be made to the borough council’s Local Plan in the coming months.  If nearby sites are allocated for housing development in an update to the plan, the character of Singlers Marsh will be changed dramatically and irreversibly.  Its rural surroundings would be replaced with several hundred new homes; a trickle of local traffic would become a mass of queuing cars at rush hour and well beyond; air and noise pollution from houses and cars will rocket upwards; the chalk stream and its fragile ecosystem will be damaged by road pollution and construction work; a chunk of its land will be lost irretrievably to a road widening scheme; and, a tranquil setting for community events will become surrounded by a busy road network.

The hugely damaging consequences of these housing developments for Singlers Marsh have never been considered in the planning process.  There have been several consultations about the development sites, but none about the effect on the marsh itself.  There is a substantial and genuine risk that these sites will now be added to the Local Plan without the effect on the marsh ever being examined.

The Singlers Marsh Action Group has been formed by local councillors, residents associations and the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group to ensure that this vital natural amenity is preserved for future generations.

On 6th May, there is an election for a Welwyn West ward councillor.  The Singlers Marsh Action Group is asking each of the four candidates for this council seat to show their support for Singlers Marsh by pledging, should they be elected, to:

  • Require a full and proper consultation of all relevant issues before any Local Plan or other planning decisions are made that could affect Singlers Marsh
  • Object to any planning applications for developing these sites or providing infrastructure for them (including road widening) that could affect Singlers Marsh
  • Oppose any sale of council-owned land that would facilitate any development that could affect Singlers Marsh

and to actively encourage their fellow councillors to do the same.

As a candidate for the Welwyn West council ward, do you pledge to support the community in these ways?

We are looking to receive your response by 5pm on Monday 3rd May.  We will subsequently announce the responses that are received before that time.

Russell Haggar
Acting on behalf of the Singlers Marsh Action Group

All four candidates endorsed these three pledges. The detailed responses from each are given below, in descending order of detail given (for want of any other way of ordering them). Any text that was supplied which did not relate to the pledges or specifically to Singlers Marsh has not been reproduced.

Response from Paul Smith:

  • Require a full and proper consultation of all relevant issues before any Local Plan or other planning decisions are made that could affect Singlers Marsh
    I have demonstrated support for the community for more than 2 years as ward councillor. I was part of the Conservative group who excluded these sites around Singlers Marsh in 2020. It’s important that everyone gets a chance to comment on any proposal to include the sites and I would lobby for meaningful consultation. Other sites may be included elsewhere and obviously we would need a consistent approach. I am certainly not in support of their inclusion.
  • Object to any planning applications for developing these sites or providing infrastructure for them (including road widening) that could affect Singlers Marsh
    Logically, I would fight any planning application currently or in future where sites are not included in the Local Plan. If the Council ultimately includes these sites in the Local Plan I would need to consider any planning applications on their merits as any pre-determination would exclude me from voting on the decision. I would certainly be very mindful of any impact on the Green Belt and Singlers Marsh.
  • Oppose any sale of council-owned land that would facilitate any development that could affect Singlers Marsh
    I do not support any development around Singlers Marsh so would not support any sale of land. This would be more difficult if the sites were included in the Local Plan, but I will do all I can to prevent that from happening.

Response from Penny Berrington:

I would like to assure you and the Singlers Marsh Action Group that I support the protection of this site.

As a designated Wildlife Site, it should have some protection from development.  I also believe that developments should not be located on flood plains.  

I have signed the the petition and have signed up for your newsletter.  

The Green Party supports peoples rights to oppose planning applications and actively encourage people to get involved in local issues.  Whilst the Green Party also recognises the need for housing, the location, build and affordability are a major considerations.  

Response from Daniel Carlen:

Singlers Marsh needs to be fully protected from encroaching development works. The area is important for wildlife and biodiversity – as well as an essential green retreat for residents. The pandemic has shown us how essential such areas are. We do need more housing for our growing population and smaller household size  – but this must not be provided by compromising a precious area like this.

Response from Alan Reimer:

As the LibDem candidate & someone who is actively involved in conservation, I support your objective of maintaining Singlers Marsh as a nature reserve.  I therefore agree to supporting your 3 point plan to preserve the nature reserve.