A tale of two town centres: Hatfield
THE ongoing 'will they, won't they' regeneration saga is at the very heart of what the core strategy will set in stone for Hatfield town centre. And with uncertainties generated by the current recession, the future of the scheme is, at best, unclear. Hatf
News editor Chris Lennon continues the WHT’s series of features focusing on different aspects of the core strategy – which is a blueprint that will steer development in Welwyn Hatfield until 2026. This week: town centres.
THE ongoing 'will they, won't they' regeneration saga is at the very heart of what the core strategy will set in stone for Hatfield town centre.
And with uncertainties generated by the current recession, the future of the scheme is, at best, unclear.
Hatfield, according to the East of England Plan, is defined as a town centre - a step down from WGC's status.
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Like WGC, it is well served by the buses, with the railway station just a 10-minute walk away.
And a twice-weekly market and monthly farmers' market also makes a "significant" contribution to the vitality and viability of the town centre.
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But Hatfield has been in decline, with increasing vacancy rates and lower rental values than for nearby towns.
Hence the revamp plans, which were designed to re-establish the town centre as the focus for the surrounding community.
There are four options to consider.
One, if regeneration is successfully delivered, should the council aim to secure a further phase of development to achieve extra floor space.
Two, if regeneration is significantly delayed, should short-term measures such as environmental improvements be brought in - and should current change of use policy be adjusted.
This would pave the way for banks, restaurants, bars and the like to open up in units only meant for shops.
This option would be reviewed when and if the regeneration finally happens.
The other two options concern if the planned revamp does not materialise at all - and involve adopting the measures outlined in option two above, and whether or not an AAP like the one suggested for WGC should be implemented.