Calls to bring back Welwyn Garden City country park plans

A BUILDING resource firm is being urged to resurrect plans to turn a 1,000 acre excavation site into a country park once its work is complete.

Residents and councillors are calling for building resource firm Lafarge Aggregates to reinstate a 32-year-old agreement over Panshanger Park, a 1,000-acre site between WGC and Hertford currently being used by the company for excavation.

As previously reported by the WHT, Lafarge has outlined its plans not to create a country park, despite an original 1979 planning agreement which states the land would be turned into a public space once excavation was completed.

Instead, part of the land will be turned into a nature reserve, with restricted public access.

But the move has been criticised by David Farmer, a member of the Panshanger Park Liaison Committee, who this week called the U-turn a “betrayal”.

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“Panshanger Park was intended by local councillors under the original agreement to be both a country park and a nature reserve,” he said.

“A nature reserve in which the public cannot observe closely the workings of nature is not one which is enhancing the need to educate the public, and especially children, about wildlife.

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“The councillors of 30 years ago knew this and insisted on the amount of proposed public access which has been in the plans until today. The new plans seek completely to overturn this vision.

“The Hertfordshire public deserve to have, at last, the wildlife treasure which is Panshanger Park opened up for its interest and education – children need to see wildlife to develop an interest in it. “I hope that our councillors do not let us – and the original councillors and consultees – down on this one.”

Liberal Democrat county councillor Malcolm Cowan added: “You may say that at least one county councillor is very exercised by this apparent change of heart by Lafarge and will be taking a very close interest in the issue, so they should not try to rush any decisions through,” he said.

A Lafarge spokeswoman described the situation as “a moveable feast”.

“As a company we’re very conscious of our commitments to both the community and to the environment. We need to strike a balance, and that’s the challenge faced by the management team,” she said.

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