Save WGC: BioPark Appeal Campaign

The WGC Heritage Trust and Keep The G in WGC's "Save WGC: BioPark Appeal" campaign page is now up on the Just Giving site. Click here to view.

In September 2021 the planning application for the BioPark was rightly rejected by the Council. However an appeal against that decision has been lodged with the Planning Inspectorate and a Planning Inquiry will take place. We must ensure the Planning Inspectorate comes to the same decision as the Council.

The Planning Inquiry will be a formal process with planning barristers, expert witnesses and around 8 days of evidence. Keep the G in WGC and the WGC Heritage Trust have therefore appointed a Planning Consultant to help put forward the best possible case and win.

We really need your help to fight the appeal. If it is successful it will allow the building of up to 9 storey high tower blocks on the site. The funds are needed urgently as the appeal process has already begun.

Please give as generously as you can to help us fight these proposals and safeguard what we love about this town.

Ebenezer Howard said "The people of the Garden City will not for a moment permit the beauty of their city to be destroyed by the process of growth. The town will grow, but it will grow in accordance with a principle which will result in this - that such growth shall not lesson or destroy, but ever add to its social opportunities, to its beauty, to its convenience."

Be part of the fight... You will make a difference! Donate at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/Savewgc

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URGENT - Help Save Welwyn Garden City

We need your help to fight the current Bio Park Appeal. If the appeal is successful it will mean the development of up to 10 storey high tower blocks on the site and more could follow, which will destroy the ethos of our town. The appeal process requires the support of professional consultants and witnesses, which costs money. We need to raise £12,000 to pay for this professional support. Please give as generously as you can to help WGC Heritage Trust and Keep the G in WGC fight these proposals and safeguard what we love about this town. The funds are needed urgently as the appeal process has already begun so please help publicise our campaign. You can donate via the Trust's Just Giving page by clicking here!

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Join us on 23rd April 2022

The WGC Heritage Trust is joining with Keep the G in WGC and the WGC Society for a family friendly protest enabling residents to show concerns about Garden City over-development and the council's failure to protect the town. The event will take place on 23rd April 2022 1.45pm - 3.15pm. Starting from The Campus at 1.45pm we will march to Ebenezer Howard's statue and then on to the Howard Centre.

Say no to Concrete City, bring your voices and banners, and try to wear something green!!

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Open letter to Cllr Fiona Thomson

Open letter to Cllr Fiona Thomson

Dear Cllr Thomson,

Your recent utterances on the planning application for the Shredded Wheat North site by The Wheat Quarter have created a mixture of surprise and puzzlement. Certainly, the WGC Heritage Trust was surprised and so I invite you to help us understand what you mean and why you are suggesting the silos should be demolished.

Following the Tesco rejection, the council prepared a design statement (SPD) for the site that laid out its aims as a guide for developers, such as a maximum height for any building of 5 storeys.

Question: Why has this policy been totally ignored? Is there a new SPD and if so, what is it and when was it passed by council?

Some residents might not see the heritage value because the whole site looks dirty and uncared for at present. A condition of the consent granted in 2019 was that the buildings should be cleaned and painted regularly.

Question: Why has the council failed to enforce these conditions as was its duty?

A particular comment from members of the public who are puzzled is why the suggestion has come out of the blue.

Question: Why, at this time, is a very senior member of the Conservative administration and longstanding member for Handside ward, which, with Peartree, is the original town centre, suddenly proposing demolition of the major landmark?

Further bewilderment arises from your timing and choice occasion.

Question: Why was such a major policy change suggested in a Full Council meeting about the District Local Plan? Why was it felt appropriate to do so?

Further uncertainty is about the what Cllr Thomson’s idea actually offers.

Question: Will there be any reduction in tower heights or increase in open spaces? If so how much?

Normally announcements or proposals about planning would be made by the Executive Member responsible.

Question: Why is the proposal to demolish the silos being made by a councillor who is neither the member for the ward in which the silos are, nor the relevant executive member?

The Grade 2 listing covers the entire site. The silos are not listed separately so any request to demolish the silos will need them to be separated. All changes to listing require consent from Historic England.

Question: Have you or anyone else spoken with Historic England about the demolition you are proposing and if not why not?

From our knowledge any request to demolish is likely to take a very long time in view of the number of parties that would have to be consulted, together with all the unsolicited emails that will result, and there is a strong likelihood of rejection at the end.

Yours in anticipation

Tony Skottowe

WGC Heritage Trust

 

SOME FACTS FOR READERS


• The silos and the building are Grade 2 listed which means permission from Historic England must be obtained before any proposal can even be considered.

• Any request to delist the silos will be opposed by a raft of organisations, national, and international, local heritage groups and a significant number of town planners and individuals worldwide.

• The Shredded Wheat factory was synonymous with the town leading to the nickname of ‘The Wheat’ as a destination on the East Coast Mainline.

• The Shredded Wheat Company and its silos have been an essential element in the history of the town since 1926 and, when clean and freshly painted, provide a standout identifier for England’s Second Garden City.

Conclusion

Given all the facts and the questions outlined is this a genuine proposal or just a distraction?

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BioPark planning meeting 9 Sep 2021

This flyer has been issued by the community group Keep the G in WGC in response to the rescheduling of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s planning committee meeting for the BioPark.
 
The meeting of the Council’s Development Management Committee will now take place at 7.30pm on Thursday 9th September 2021 at Campus West Theatre, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City AL8 6BX. It will also be webcast and available to view at https://welhat.public-i.tv/.../webcast_interactive/585853
 
Keep the G in WGC suggest that anyone wishing to show their concerns over this proposed development should meet from 6.30pm at Campus West.
 
Visit: www.KeeptheGinWGC.org.uk to find out more!
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Una Stubbs tribute

A single pink rose was left in tribute to Una Stubbs, at the memorial sculpture of Ebenezer Howard in Howardsgate.

Una Stubbs, who died earlier this month, had a career in film, television and theatre that spanned decades. In 2013 she took part in the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? programme to learn more about her family and found not one but two connections with Welwyn Garden City.

Never having met her paternal grandparents even though they didn't die until she was in her twenties, Una, who was the face of Rowntree's Dairy Box in the 1950s, discovered that her grandfather worked for the chocolate manufacturer thirty years before. When increasing mechanisation put her grandfather out of a job, the family relocated to Welwyn Garden City. By extraordinary coincidence Una's maternal great grandfather was Sir Ebenezer Howard, founder of the Garden City movement and the creator of Welwyn Garden City.

Angela Eserin, local historian and a Trustee of the WGC Heritage Trust, was invited by the Who Do You Think You Are? producers to participate in the filming of the programme, talking to Una on her visit to Welwyn Garden City.

“I found her to be a genuinely lovely person. Not the least bit "actressy", but modest and unassuming and really easy to talk to. She instantly put me at ease. She did say how proud she was of her great grandfather and how beautiful she thought Welwyn Garden City was.

At the end of the filming she said goodbye and walked into John Lewis and I remember thinking it unlikely that anyone in the store would realise that the small figure in the black coat and beret was the wonderful actress Una Stubbs.”

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WGC Needs You

Welwyn Hatfield's Development Management Committee, which decides the fate of planning applications, is now due to meet on Thursday 9th September 2021 to discuss the first of the Broadwater Road high rise developments. This will consider the proposed development on the BioPark site, which is planned to be densely packed apartment blocks up to 9 storeys in height.

Having cancelled an earlier meeting the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council website states:

"We have recently received further communications from members of the public and want to allow for further consideration of these before DMC meets.

As there is significant public interest in this application, we are taking the opportunity to consider an alternative venue where the meeting can be held in a safe and Covid-secure way. The meeting was, as usual, scheduled to be webcast but we are aware that some members of the public may still prefer to attend in person.

Please note that any further comments received between now and the new date of the committee will be taken into consideration."

The WGC Society would like as many people as possible who are concerned about the proposed Broadwater Road area planning applications to assemble in the Cherry Tree car park outside the Council Offices at 6:30pm on Thursday 12th September. The Society says "We need to be well behaved and patient, and, we suggest, smartly dressed. We will be together with our friends from the Keep the G in WGC group and the Heritage Trust. We are unlikely to be admitted to the Chamber, so it would be advisable to bring something to sit on, as the plan will be to have as many people outside at the end of the meeting as we can. The meeting will start at 7:30pm and last for at least an hour. We will try to broadcast an audio version of the meeting into the car park so that there will be something to listen to. It is really important that councillors are clear about the weight of opposition there is against these proposals. We hope that as many of you will support us as possible."

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Welwyn Garden City Under Threat

Welwyn Garden City is facing a monstrous threat from the developers of the northern half of the Shredded Wheat site. They are trying to get permission for tower blocks of up to 10 storeys. Together with existing approved plans this would mean inserting around 4,000 new residents, virtually a whole new ward, and bring the population density to a level comparable to Manhattan! The plans completely ignore the SPD (Special Planning Document) created by the council as the definitive statement on the Shredded Wheat site.

Comprising entirely apartments and with little green space the plans contradict everything that defines a Garden City. There is no social housing offered in the mix and only 0.6 parking spaces per dwelling. Views of the iconic silos will virtually disappear and the view of the Town Centre from the east side blocked by the huge towers.

WGC Heritage Trust and our sister organisation the WGC Society are leading the fight and badly need high profile objections lodged with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council by 31st March. Please help prevent the devastation of arguably the most beautiful garden city in the world.

If you do not have time to use the Planning Department’s standardised forms please address your objections to Cllr Tony Kingsbury, Leader of the Council: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

However, even more has just come to light as the developers of the southern section have sent in a further application that would increase the number and size of tower blocks and population even further!

To help you create a powerful statement of your concerns we have created a list of suggestions below.

GROUNDS FOR OBJECTION

The Broadwater Road Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), the SPD (Supplementary Planning Document), adds further detail to the policies in the Local Plan. It provides guidance for development on specific sites, or particular issues, such as design. SPDs can be a material consideration in planning decisions but are not part of the development plan. The SPD for Broadwater expects all proposed development to be respectful to the silos and not exceeding 5 storeys.

Key planning issue – if you have a plan you stick to it.

Extracts:

‘The main listed structure of the CPUK silos should be incorporated as landmarks in the overall structure of development and the building heights of all blocks should have regard to the setting of these buildings. The silos, in particular, should stand out as the main landmark on the skyline and therefore no new development should adversely affect this role’.  [Section: Height-6.15]

‘The Council's vision for Broadwater Road West is... To deliver an energetic and pioneering scheme of development which integrates the spirit of the garden city with the very best of high quality 21st Century design, seizing the opportunity to enhance the local environment and create a sustainable, supported neighbourhood of an appropriate scale, which successfully integrates with the local community’.  [Section Vision- 1.5]

Below are a list of suggested objections - please edit and add your own twist. Object on: https://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Display/6/2021/0181/MAJ

1. The site and its effect on adjoining properties.

The new proposal increases the number of dwellings from the granted 811 units by over 50% to a massive 1241 units.  Compared with the 2015 permission this is an increase of over 240% from original 851 units to a massive 1,241. The proposed building height is 10 storeys which contradicts the Council’s own SPD limiting building to 5 storeys.

2. Appearance relative to the area.

The further increase in size is inappropriate for this, the second garden city.

3. Plot size and spacing relative to the area.

The approach is too dense by far.

The design obviously does not take into account pandemic issues.

The development hides the Shredded Wheat silos and production hall. It will compromise the Broadwater Road street scene, overpowering the art deco and Mirage developments to the south. It is inappropriate for a Garden City, being too dense in nature.  The proposed density is higher than Manhattan, New York – but at least they have the greenery of Central Park!  It is 121 dwellings per acre compared with 57 for a typical London social housing estate). This is too dense, too high and detrimental to well being. It is lacking greenery and has no kinship with our unique town.

4. Effect on the street scene.

Overpowering. The proposals have no affinity whatsoever with this town.

5. Landscaping.

There is inadequate greenery in the proposals.

6. Design of the buildings relative to the area.

There is no relationship – it is overpowering.

7. Traffic and access.

The local infrastructure is inadequate to sustain such a large development (including roads/ railway/ schools/ medical facilities, etc.). There is no example where a no-car/ bike-hub has worked. The proposals are large enough to create a new Council Ward!

8. Impact of the development, particularly on adjoining properties.

Overpowering. If this development is granted then all the adjacent areas will have proposals for high rise buildings. A massive 7 storey development is already mooted for Bridge Road East.

9. Other issues

Other sites within the borough, such as villages with high public transport accessibility, appear to have been ignored despite their suitability for development. Emphasise this as it is a curious fact that the main bulk of the new housing has been dropped onto WGC while leaving highly suitable sites elsewhere in the district untouched.

The public ‘consultation’ undertaken to date has been poor and there is a low level of public awareness.

Please resist the temptation to just copy & paste. You could omit some of the less damaging proposals and/or amend the text to put your own twist on the submission.

OBJECTION OPTIONS:

Welwyn Hatfield Planning – You can go direct to the relevant planning application by entering https://planning.welhat.gov.uk/Planning/Display/6/2021/0181/MAJ into your browser. Then follow the instructions. You are limited to 1000 characters but can attach a file containing additional remarks if this is insufficient. We recommend you get your attachment written before starting this method. The constraint of 1000 characters, not words, is very limiting and will only really give you the chance to list all the aspects you object to. However, the attachment allows free rein so make the most of it. If you are commenting on the planning application, you will be requested to provide your name, address and contact details.

OR

Contact Welwyn Hatfield Council Leader – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you prefer to simply copy your remarks to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. we will be happy to undertake copying all responses to the relevant councillors.

(Illustration from Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing design and access statement showing north and south developments on the Broadwater Road site)

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Digital town trails in WGC

A reminder that you can follow WGC Heritage Trust's two digital town trails using your smartphone or tablet!

Simply scan our QR codes with your phone or tablet to see the history of that location and information on how to get to the next location.

You can start anywhere you can spot a QR code, but both the town centre trail and the Peartree trail officially start just outside the Howard Centre. The QR code is on your left as you exit the Howard Centre's main entrance on a lamp post in the grassy area (look for a plaque similar to the one pictured above). Full information on how to get started is on the plaque, or read on for full details...

The system, developed by the Welwyn Garden City Heritage Trust, uses well tried existing technology in a completely new way. Users with smart phones will now have access to our digital trails simply by scanning the QR codes on specially designed signs mounted on lamp posts. The system has been designed to work with iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry and Amazon Kindle mobiles and Internet enabled tablets. To scan the QR codes the system uses any one of a number of freely downloadable apps that will read the code on each sign and immediately link the phone to the Trust’s town trail website (http://towntrail.welwyngarden-heritage.org). Each sign has a unique code connecting you to information about the history of that location.

To ensure you get immediate access each QR sign provides a link for obtaining a suitable QR Code Reader. Simply by typing goo.gl/kvYDSY (written on each sign) into the browser of your phone a list of apps that we have checked work will be displayed. Download your choice of app from the list and you can start using the trails immediately. As far as research by the Trust has shown the system is not in use anywhere else in the UK and so gives Welwyn Garden City a ‘Digital First’.

In the future the Trust plans to offer sound and video in addition to the already provided text and photos to enrich your experience.

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