Zoom presentation on “Connected Cities”

There will be a Zoom meeting for members at 8pm on Wednesday 2nd December. There will be a presentation given by Brian Love on “Connected Cities”. Brian is the Chief Executive at ConnectedCities Ltd. This organisation is a non-partisan initiative which proposes sustainable development based on Ebenezer Howard’s idea that Garden Cities can group together to form a “Social City”. This will be able to accommodate sustainably all population growth far into the future. It is understood that their idea was based on a study of Hertfordshire New Towns. We hope that the presentation will throw some light on how Howard’s ideas might be updated for the twenty first century.

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Serious Concern over Shredded Wheat Site Development Proposals

We have contacted Metropolitan Thames Valley Homes to express our concerns over the proposed development at the southern end of the Shredded Wheat site. Here is our submission:

“We would not support the proposals as they stand. We have been approached by many of our members indicating that they are wholly opposed to what you are proposing; and we feel that it would have been advisable had you contacted the Society at an earlier date as we feel that it would have helped make your proposal more acceptable to those who already live here.

Further, we have to say now that you have given the town very little notice of your proposals.  Indeed, the doorstep leaflet outlining your ideas only reached a large number of our members in the week preceding the date on which your consultation was closing.  This is not sufficient time to take in something as large as this and which is so important to this town.

As you may know the Society is the largest environmental group in the garden city.  We seek to ensure that the best of the past is preserved and carried forward as the town moves into the future.

For that reason we would normally be happy to meet your organisation but, in view of Covid 19, we will write to you in more detail after further examining your proposals.  Perhaps we could arrange a Zoom meeting subsequently.”

 

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Panshanger Park Orangery Vandalism

The last remains of Panshanger House, the Orangery, is currently suffering a spate of damage and vandalism. The Orangery, sited close to the famous Panshanger Oak, is a listed building on the Heritage at Risk register, and lies on the northern side of parkland inspired by Humphry Repton and Capability Brown. Sadly it has suffered damage such as large holes cut in the perimeter fence and brickwork demolition on the walls of the ancient building. There are beer cans littering the ground within the Orangery, along with bonfire ashes and graffiti on the walls. This can be seen in the photographs below:

 

Tarmac are the custodians of this listed building. The Society has brought this damage to the attention of their Estates Manager Michael Charlton. In his reply he has assured us that: “We (Tarmac) have had approval from the East Herts Building Conservation Officer to install a new rigid mesh security fence and monitored security cameras. Installation should begin in October. In the meantime our ranger team are doing their best to keep the existing fence patched up. We are confident the new measures will prevent the trespass and we will put right any damage that has been caused”.

 

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Poster Booth Project Press Release

We are very pleased to announce that the refurbishment of the two remaining town centre poster booths is imminent, thanks to National Lottery Heritage funding which has now been secured. Below is a press release from the Society outlining the funding received, and our planned project. We will update you on future progress.
Don’t forget that you can read previous news about this and other matters in our newsletter archive HERE.

 

If you have any comments do contact us on wgcsociety@live.com

 

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspirelead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.

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What’s happening with “The Wheat Quarter”?

Wheat Quarter Welwyn Garden City

The unloved factory as it appears from Bridge Road

With only a couple of weeks to go until the towns centenary year and celebrations things seemed to have ground to a halt in the development of the former Shredded Wheat site. Hopes were high that the new landowners would get on with redeveloping the site for 2020, in fact their vision statement set out in their document “Delivering the Wheat Quarter, January 2018” boldly stated:

“The vision for The Wheat Quarter is to deliver a unique destination for people to live, work and spend their leisure time. The redevelopment of the former Shredded Wheat Factory community elements is due to complete in 2020, which coincides with Welwyn Garden City’s centenary year in which the town will be celebrating its origins in the Garden City Movement.”

However, the dilapidated factory remains a paint peeling eyesore. There seems to be no news as to when this will change. Here are a few pictures taken very recently (Mid December 2019), click on them to enlarge:

Shreeded Wheat The Wheat Quarter WGC

Will visitors to the town for the centenary be greeted with this when they arrive at the train station or drive in over Hunters Bridge? Will we residents have to go on looking at this derelict behemoth?

Our Society hopes that the factory will receive the love and attention we were told it was going to get by the new owners when they took on the site. The landowners originally said the work will complete in 2020 but it hasn’t begun as far as we can see, what a sad state of affairs! We hope that our Borough Council is also pushing to get things underway asap. Planning consent was granted some time ago now,  since then the developers have sought to revise it, scaling back on some of what was originally proposed.  The town deserves better in its centenary year, when it will be getting a lot more attention, and many more visitors. This remains a memorable building, but for all the wrong reasons.

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Plant a Legacy Tree for the Centenary

The imminent centenary presents a legacy opportunity to re-green Welwyn Garden City.  Many trees have been lost and others are very old or have outgrown their locations. The benefits of trees as a visual amenity, for birdlife and sustainability are very topical at present.

The Welwyn Garden City Society has produced an information sheet for homeowners to ‘plant a legacy tree for the centenary’.  The best time to plant a tree is from December to February so there are opportunities for the centenary in 2019 and 2020. Our information sheet can be read here:

Plant a Legacy Tree for the Centenary a guide

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EMS Consultation Submission

The Society has now submitted its feedback to the WHBC public consultation on the new Design Guide proposals for the Estate Management Scheme areas of the town.

Our submission can be read by clicking here.The main website about the proposals is here: https://www.wgc-ems.org/design-guide/

Welwyn Garden City EMS

Graphic used by WHBC to promote the new Design Guide

You can check whether you live or out of the scheme area by putting in post code on this web page:

https://www.wgc-ems.org/interactive-map/

 

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Aerial footage in and around the town…

Just for interest this video of the town has emerged on the YouTube website, it appears to be drone footage in and around the town, shot in the dry spell last summer:

 

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Two short videos from Panshanger

We just wanted to point to these these two short videos that have recently emerged, they may be of interest:

The local Panshanger Park featured on BBC Countryfile over Easter, it was a good piece and the park looked wonderful. They did mention that it’s still not fully open to the public, this is something that the Society has been following up on for five years or so now. The full opening of the park is now many years overdue, you can find out a lot more about that on the Friends group website here: http://friendsofpanshangerpark.co.uk

Their website also has the below short clip that shows the problem for visitors trying to access the park from the Panshanger end, along the level Mimram Valley path, it is self-explanatory. We will continue to campaign for this route to be made accessible.

 

On a lighter note, for those that may not be able to get out and enjoy this year’s flush of Bluebells locally here is a short clip of the Bluebells in Henry Wood Panshanger, not far from the site of the (former) airfield. The bluebells still abound in our area so there is still time to get out see them for yourself around the town.

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Splashlands “It was twenty years ago today…”

Well not quite 20 years but very nearly. Almost twenty years ago the Splashlands swimming pool was closed forever and demolished soon after. You can read the text of the WHT article announcing the closure by clicking here. We were told in the article  “We will work to resolve this issue and will keep you informed of our plans for this facility”.  Almost 20 years later, after several false starts and well over £100,000 being spent on consultants who drew up plans that then didn’t happen, we have a new plan…and at last a planning application which indicates this plan should actually happen. Their has been several million pounds set aside for Splashlands replacement in the council’s budget for very many years. They decided to spend half a million of it on the High Ropes, which can be seen to be devoid of customers most days of the week. Presumably that amenity costs more money to run than it makes. The council’s plan about ten years ago was that the High Ropes would turn enough of a profit to pay for the running of the much overdue water park. That was pie in the sky it appears, and the situation could now reverse. The new splash park might pull more people into that side of Stanborough Park, and some of them might contribute to the coffers of the underemployed High Ropes…it’s a topsy turvey world!

The original pool opened way back in 1933, the Splashlands redevelopment with water flumes opened in 1987 and shut for good 12 years later. The reasons for closure appeared for many to be as much about the high running costs, as it was about subsidence and safety concerns.

However, the new plans are encouraging, although it appears the existing children’s park area will be taken away before the new facility is built. It’s not clear why the two can’t co-exist and give park users more to play on overall. The pictures of the fitness area don’t seem very ambitious however, we would hope whatever is built is at least good as similar installations elsewhere. This website gives a good idea of what is available from just one manufacturer: https://www.caloo.co.uk/product-category/outdoor-gym-equipment-bundles/

Here is a extract from the new planning application that shows the layout and the design brief, click to enlarge:

Stanborough Splashlands

Extract from current planning application

Residents can read all the documents and comment on the new proposals via the WHBC planning portal here:

http://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Display/6/2019/0857/MAJ

We have until the 9th May to submit comments on the application. The Society hopes that a high quality and free to use splash park is finally up and running in time for the centenary next year. Almost all our neighbouring towns have had one for many years already, the one in Letchworth being extremely popular in the summer months.

One can’t help feeling that this new proposal should been before us 15 years ago. The development of a new splash park was further delayed by the serious accident and ensuing court case that saw the High Ropes mothballed just before they were opened to the public, you can read a summary of that unfortunate episode here.

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