Keep Welwyn Special
Keep Welwyn Special
There are new planning proposals to expand Welwyn's housing stock by up to 50%.
This petition calls on Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to recognise what makes Welwyn special, and to understand what the community wants when it considers each of the current development proposals.
Welwyn, Oaklands and Mardley Heath currently have 3,200 homes between them. Most agree that it's a great place to live, with a sense of community, an active cultural life, and a history stretching back over 2,500 years. Many also agree that the area already has traffic congestion, a shortage of parking, full schools, a busy GP surgery and little affordable housing.
The borough council is consulting residents about adding substantial extra housing capacity across its whole area, including around Welwyn. The proposals around Welwyn add up to a minimum of 900 extra homes, with the smallest plot being 28 new homes and the largest having 211. On top of this, there are two large sites being put forward with an unspecified number of homes - based on the densities of the other plots, these could further add between 116 and 622 homes.
So, if all these sites were to be approved, Welwyn would be enlarged by 50% during the next 15 years.
Everyone is encouraged to provide their own response to the council's consultation exercise via their website (www.welhat.gov.uk/promoted_sites_2019). The deadline for responses is 18th June. Various local groups are assessing the plans in detail, and they have already highlighted problems with most of the proposed development sites.
Although traffic flow around the outside of the village could be improved by council-funded road improvements, cars from these new sites will still use existing roads within the village. It is difficult to see how routes such as Kimpton Road or School Lane can be modified to support literally hundreds more cars at rush hour. Similarly, with local schools and GP surgeries already full, on-street parking already saturated by recent housing developments, and parking for shops and restaurants on the high street already difficult, a major co-ordinated effort will be needed to ensure that extra housing does not damage the running of our village.
Some of the proposals involve building over designated wildlife sites, others will encroach on the open spaces around Singlers Marsh (where the annual Fun Day takes place). One plan involves putting an access road through part of Singlers Marsh itself, and another encroaches on the peaceful area of the cemetery. Several sites would wreck the archaeological remains long suspected to lie undisturbed beneath the surface of this ancient village with roots that date back to before Roman times.
Some people will view the prospect of new housing as a real improvement to Welwyn, and others will object to the effects of the development. However, it is clear that if all the proposed sites are accepted, Welwyn as we know it will no longer exist. There is a clear need for more housing in the area, particularly more affordable housing. There is also an obvious need to appropriately expand the village's infrastructure to be ready before the increased demand from the extra housing. The councillors’ decision making also needs to pay attention to what it is about Welwyn that makes it special to its residents: its social and cultural life, its heritage, its sense of history and community, and its mix of village life surrounded by nature and countryside.
While residents can express their views individually through the consultation process, this petition calls on Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to recognise what makes Welwyn special, and to consider each of the development proposals carefully with regard to what the community wants.
This petition will be also available for signing with pen and paper at the Welwyn Week Street Market (15th June) and at the Singlers Marsh Fun Day (22nd June).