Building firm denies Welwyn Garden City country park u-turn

PLANS to turn a 1,000 acre site into a country park have been thrown into doubt – after plans to alter a 30-year agreement were shown to the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

Building resource from Lafarge Aggregates this week refuted claims it was seeking to vary the terms of a 1979 legal agreement that allowed the company to extract sand and gravel from Panshanger Park – a Grade II-listed park between WGC and Hertford – until 2030.

Under the terms of the agreement, the land would eventually be restored and turned into a country park, complete with footpaths, bridleways, picnic areas, information boards and public car parks.

And with extraction work now expected to finish well ahead of schedule, it seemed that the people of Times Territory and further afield would soon be able to enjoy a natural beauty spot on their front doorstep.

But now, the Welwyn Hatfield Times has been shown plans that suggest Lafarge is about to submit an application to Hertfordshire County Council asking to vary the conditions of its agreement – and radically alter the original vision for the country park.

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The plans were shown to the Welwyn Hatfield Times by a concerned resident, who did not want to be named.

Gone are the footways, bridlepaths and information boards. Instead, a single right of way stretching through the park from WGC to Hertford will be built.

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And instead of picnic areas and car parks, pheasant shooting and fishing will be allowed on a fee-paying basis.

“This will severely let down the communities of Hertford, Welwyn Hatfield and the surrounding villages who had originally looked forward to an eventual recompense for the long years of the gravel extraction and it’s accompanying nuisance,” the resident said.

“Obviously, no one is asking for footpaths or bridleways to be opened in areas where there is current working and therefore danger. However, large parts of the estate are now restored, and the plans for the rest should not be altered to go back on a legal and moral agreement with the residents of Hertfordshire.”

But a spokesman for Lafarge Aggregates categorically refuted that anything had changed.

“Fundamentally, we have a legal obligation about the after use of the park, and there is no intention to alter or change that whatsoever,” he said.

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