‘WGC5′ What Lies Beneath?

Members of our committee have been working on a new document that seeks to pull together information about the former landfill site at Holwell Hyde. The area that has long been home to our household  refuse site and is also now earmarked for development as ‘Birchall Garden Suburb’ in the proposed Local Plan. We have discovered that  the site has a long and interesting history,  acting as a landfill site for all manner of waste, much it from across London, for about 70 years. It turns out that for many years London’s waste was loaded onto trains, and later lorries, at Ashburton Grove in North London, where the Arsenal Emirates stadium now stands, and sent up to the Holwell Hyde landfill site.

What Lies Beneath graphic

Our new report on the subject seeks to present what we’ve found, but we are also very interested in more information about how the site operated from anyone who was involved in its original incarnation as a landfill site? If you have anymore information, (especially photos as we have found none so far) please do contact us.

This site is of course part of the WHBC proposed Local Plan (WGC5) and we have made some comments about that aspect within the paper. At this stage it seems uncertain that the history of the site and the implications of 70 years of waste has been fully accounted for in the council’s current proposals. We have also come across three recent and very detailed professional site surveys which also throw up questions with regard to contamination levels, and what they may mean for any future development that may include schools, homes, employment, recreation, and a country park.

You can download the report document here: What Lies Beneath (WGC5) Final v1.0

If you can help us build up a better picture of what went on at this site up until about 1990 please do get in touch as this will be an evolving document. Your views and comments are welcome.



Local Plan Drop-in event this Thursday 22nd 3:30-7:30

With the Local Plan consultation well underway this Thursday will see the sole drop-in event hosted by the council in WGC, to present it’s plans to residents. The event takes place at the Fairway Tavern, Old Herns Ln, Welwyn Garden City AL7 2ED. It runs from 3:30-7:30 and council staff will be present to explain details of the plan to residents. The housing allocations being proposed for WGC can be seen below.  The plans for ‘Town Centre North’ and 650 homes on Panshanger airfield are also part of the plans. This is the final consultation before the plan is submitted to the Independent planning inspector for approval next year.

The WHBC online consultation can be found here: http://consult.welhat.gov.uk/portal/planning_policy

There is also a Facebook Group that has been set up to disseminate information about the consultation here, which contains useful additional information. This is an independent site, not linked to the council’s own website. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/171918003239091




The housing allocations across the borough as a whole can be seen on the chart below:

Housing allocations across the borough.

Housing allocations across the borough.


Aldi Planning Application

The WHBC Development Management Committee recently approved the planning application by the supermarket Aldi for a shop in Bessemer Road. You can read more in the WHT article here: http://www.whtimes.co.uk/news/aldi_coming_to_welwyn_garden_city_1_4699111

The Society supports the proposals for the development of this site and the increase in the variety of retail opportunities local to residential areas. This proposal would be in addition to and not in competition to the Town Centre in it’s view.

The Society takes each new such planning application on its own merits and considers the particular details. This application was entirely different to other supermarket applications in recent years, such as that by Tesco for a large ‘Extra’ store on land that was previously designated for other use by WHBC.


Councillors reject J D Wetherspoon’s application to turn 22 Parkway into a Pub

You may have heard that the application by J D Wetherspoon to turn 22 Parkway into a pub was again unanimously rejected by councillors on the Development Management Committee (previously known as the Planning Committee) at a meeting held on Thursday evening.

This second application was notable for the fact that it did not specify the number of people who might frequent the proposed pub at any one time and for the proposed erection of a fifteen foot so-called acoustic wall to shield the occupants of Asquith House from the noise of the drinkers in the rear garden.  All this in a Conservation Area and on a site specially zoned to ensure that only low key activities (such as doctors, dentists and lawyers) should be based, so as to protect the residential area from noise.

This was also the first time many will have seen the interior of the new Council Chamber.  There were a number of gremlins in the sound system for those that had to sit in the Reception area as the main chamber is too small to hold large numbers.  Despite this minor inconvenience, the outcome was satisfactory.

Once again, we would like to thank all those who contributed to this decision directly or indirectly, who lobbied their elected councillors, again registered their objections on the Council’s planning system or came to the meeting itself. It all contributed towards the Planning Officers comprehensively recommending refusal of the application, and the Councillors’ unanimous decision to refuse. We are very appreciative of the effort and support the Society received.  Nor should we ever underestimate the persuasive effect of a packed audience in helping our councillors make sensible decisions.

After the last refusal, J D Wetherspoon waited nearly six months before making a second application.  This time, we rather think the company may seek to appeal, as some of the documentation it has submitted in support of this second application is in a better condition than the first.  Despite this, the content of the application still fails, in our opinion, to make planning sense.

The Society always needs new members and we especially need people who like to get stuck in and make things happen.  We need people who can write good text, who can communicate with the press, lobby councillors and who can help with the management of our web site.  The latter is increasingly important as the need to have a greater presence in the digital world is now vital.

It is easy to join by contacting the Membership Secretary, Gerry Crux, on 01707 323352.  Alternatively, you can contact the Society through its web site:  wgcsociety@live.com. We can also arrange for someone to call around, if you need to speak to someone directly.




Final Local Plan Consultation Open

The latest and probably last public consultation for the WHBC Local Plan is now open and runs until October 24th. As previously, residents can submit comments on paper using a supplied response form and the plan documentation is available to view at the council offices. However, WHBC suggests responding via their online consultation portal. The finalised will become the blueprint for development in the borough up until 2032. It will supersede the current plan which has run from 2005.  Following this consultation it will go for public inspection to an Independent Planning Inspector where it will be found sound and legal, or not.  Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has informed all local councils they must have a plan in place by ‘early 2017′ you can read his note on the matter HERE.

We urge members and residents to participate in this consultation and submit their responses. WHBC plans this time around are broadly the same as presented in the last consultation, almost 2 years ago. Some of the housing allocations have been tweaked but the locations for new housing remain similar. The plan seeks to allocate 12,000 homes within the borough as a whole.  The following table shows the proposed locations in WGC:

WGC Site Allocations

 The Society will be submitting its representation to the consultation and we will have more to say about it in coming weeks once the documentation has been sufficiently digested. You will notice that the single largest proposed site is the ‘Birchall Garden Suburb’ development being promoted by Tarmac. The plan also contains details of the proposed ‘Town Centre North’ which includes 6,000 additional square meters of retail space and 100 dwellings where the John Lewis car park and Jubilee Gardens now stand.

The main link to the council’s website about the consultation is here: http://welhat.gov.uk/localplan

The online consultation portal can be found here: http://consult.welhat.gov.uk/portal

The Society is also keen to hear residents views on the proposals, so as to inform our own response to it.

For those who frequent Facebook there is a discussion group about the Local Plan, open to all, here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/171918003239091

WHBC is holding a drop-in event in WGC about the plan, details below:

The Fairway Tavern, Old Herns Lane, Welwyn Garden City, AL7 2ED

Thursday 22nd September, 3.30pm to 7.30pm.


Development Management Committee Meeting to decide on 22 Parkway

The Development Management Committee will meet at 7.30pm on Thursday 18 August, at the Council Offices, The Campus, WGC, to consider the application to turn no 22 Parkway into a public house.  For a copy of the leaflet we have issued in relation to this meeting, please click here.

UPDATE: For the second time the Development Management Committee unanimously voted to reject the JD Wetherspoons proposal. It remains to be seen what JD Wetherspoons will now decide to do with.


Access to Panshanger Park

Over the years we have been applying pressure on Tarmac to open up Panshanger Park as they are duty bound under the terms of a planning permission granted to them by Hertfordshire County Council to extract gravel from the park. Slowly the park is being opened up but ever so slowly.

This photograph shows members of the Society Committee as well as other local groups at a gate which is usually locked and which leads into one of the most beautiful walks in the park. This goes from Welwyn Garden City into the park along the Rover Mimram all the way to Thieves lane in Hartford. We are pressing for this to be opened not later than the end of the year.


Panshanger Park

MP Grant with Society members and other local residents

Panshanger Country Park is a wonderful public amenity for Welwyn Garden City residents, offering picturesque walks through the Mimram Valley, the park is English Heritage Grade II* listed.

Two years ago our MP Grant Shapps visited the park and at that time he commented “I’m delighted that it has finally been brought back into use for all. I hope Lafarge continue to act on their promise to open up the rest of the park for locals to enjoy”. Our MP has been very supportive of the Society’s position.

Two years on and the key access route from WGC remains closed to the public. This week Grant Shapps, MP accompanied the WGC Society on a visit to see the still closed area. The Society, the local MP, and the Friends of Panshanger Park all want to see this section of the park opened up as soon as possible so that residents can enjoy this beautiful new amenity, which is supposed to be an open access Country Park.

This time around Grant Shapps made it clear that Tarmac should be listening to local people rather than single interest groups from around the country.

Residents of the town are disadvantaged by not having the route along the Mimram valley open. The central path across beside the Mimram, remains closed. This denies WGC visitors an easy access route into the park, a route that offers one of the finest walks in the park, with the best views.

A year ago Tarmac stated in a press release that “Other trails will be opened up during the summer”. This didn’t happen, we have sought to establish from Tarmac a date by when it will happen, but nothing is forthcoming. We have indicated that Tarmac is hiding behind the environmental lobby to delay or stop access whereas the Society is adamant that there is room for both wildlife and people.

Panshanger Park

Panshanger Park Mimram valley view



Group 1

Our group during the visit


Panshanger Park

Tarmac management explaining their position to MP Grant Shapps


WGC Bus Station Consultation

Herts County Council are currently running a short consultation seeking residents input on their plans for improvements to the bus station, the artists impression can be see below:

WGC bus station

The proposed improvements

The consultation runs until the 17th June, an online form can be found here:  http://surveys.hertsdirect.org/s/WGCbusstationsurvey

Before attempting the consultation it would be useful to read the short information document available here: wgcbusstationinfo

The Society encourages residents to partake in this survey and let their views be known, whatever they are.

Some points that occur to us are:

  • The revised bus stop layout will be an improvement on the current situation where pedestrians have to walk across a bus lane to get to stops in the middle. They will provide more weather protection for passengers waiting for buses.
  • It will still be a windy place to wait. This maybe due to the design of the Howard Centre buildings.
  • Digital bus destination boards to indicate time of next bus are very important and should always be operational.
  • The new covered in area may require more maintenance as it may attract more people in the evenings or overnight, after the buses have stopped running. The area will need to be kept clean and tidy.
  • What do the bus companies think, will it affect their operations in any way?

The survey form just takes a few minutes to fill in, please do share your views with Herts County Council.


J D Wetherspoon – Planning application to turn 22 Parkway into a pub.

The Society has prepared a summary action plan for members, in response to JD Wetherspoon’s latest planning application to turn 22, Parkway into a pub. For details please click here.


J D Wetherspoon – a second planning application to turn 22 Parkway into a pub.

The Society is examining this second application in detail.

At first glance, there is not much difference from the first application.  There are improvements in odour control and a new “acoustic fence” at the rear.  The ground floor extension and beer garden are slightly smaller but the fact remains that the overall design remains poor, possibly worse than the first application.

The Society will post its advice to members and residents on this web site shortly, once it has examined the application in full and taken appropriate advice.