Welwyn Concrete City

Welwyn Concrete City – that’s how one Society member described plans for development of the Shredded Wheat site along Broadwater Road. Blocks up to 11 storeys high are proposed, with less greenery than initially promised.

New proposals have been published recently for the Shredded Wheat and Bio Park sites that will increase the number of new homes in this area, west of Broadwater Road, to 2454.

Shredded Wheat site

In 2019, The Wheat Quarter Ltd received planning approval from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to build 1,454 homes on the Shredded Wheat site on Broadwater Road, with:

–   811 units including care-homes on the Northern Side, north of Hyde Way, and

–    643 units including social & affordable housing on the Southern Side, south of Hyde Way.

In 2020, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, the appointed developer of the Southern Side commenced building 208 homes at the southern end of their site, near Otto Road. In October 2020, MTVH consulted to increase the number of homes on the remaining area of their site from 435 units to 747 units. This increase of 312 units makes total number of homes on the southern site 955. See https://wgc-southside-mtvh.co.uk/ for more information.

In January 2021, The Wheat Quarter Ltd began consulting on proposals to increase the number of homes on the Northern Side from 811 to 1,210 homes, an increase of 399 units. See their Design & Access Statement and Planning Statement for details. We encourage all members to view these proposals and the Society is preparing its response to this consultation.

BioPark

Further south on Broadwater Road, in 2019, the BioPark site was sold by University of Hertfordshire to HG Construction. In October 2020 the developer published its proposal to build 289 homes on that site. For further details please see BioPark Consultation (http://broadwatergardens.co.uk).

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First Zoom Meeting for Members Voted a Success!

Nearly 50 Society members enjoyed Brian Q Love’s presentation on Connected Cities. Brian is an engaging speaker who challenged us to think about how garden city principles might be used to accommodate population growth in the twenty first century. He even suggested that the area stretching along the railway from Stevenage to Potters Bar, incorporating Welwyn Garden City, might be an existing example of what a “Connected City” could be like.

Brian’s presentation raised many questions. The idea is based around the use of railways as the most efficient means of transporting us. The car plays little part in this vision of the future. This is always going to be a problem for many. The idea needs political will to succeed. At present it is hard to see where that support might come from.

Hopefully the presentation inspired us to think about the future development of our area, and of how to house the country’s growing population sustainably.

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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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