‘Please do not vote to damage Welwyn irreparably’

Singlers Marsh

Singlers Marsh, Welwyn - Credit: Archant

A group of Welwyn residents has sent a letter to councillors outlining why they think developing the parish would be a disaster for the area’s community, ecology and heritage. 

Ahead of tonight’s Local Plan meeting (January 13) - which will determine how the borough will meet housing demand - Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group (WPAG) have pleaded councillors "do not vote to damage Welwyn irreparably”.  

The group states that Welwyn has been overdeveloped in comparison to neighbouring areas.

According to their report, Welwyn’s housing has grown by 13 per cent since 2011, and Welwyn village itself grew by 23 per cent in that time, whereas Hatfield only grew by 12 per cent and Welwyn Garden City by 10 per cent. 

Graph to show increase in dwelling numbers in Welwyn and surrounding Hertfordshire villages

“In short, Welwyn Parish is already full" - Credit: Russell Haggar

However, WPAG asserts that infrastructure has not grown alongside demand; it has declined instead. As Welwyn is situated at the edge of the borough, its roads and healthcare are used by the growing populations of Codicote, West Stevenage, Knebworth and Woolmer Green. 

WPAG believe that Welwyn’s surrounding terrain would make expanding infrastructure difficult. “In short, Welwyn Parish is already full,” the group said. 

Singlers Marsh 

Singlers Marsh

The Mimram River is a rare chalk stream that runs through Singlers Marsh. - Credit: Kevin Lines

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The group is also worried about the Local Plan’s bid to build access roads on the Green Belt land and a bridge over the Mimram River, a chalk stream that runs through Singlers Marsh, in order to build houses.  

“Singlers Marsh hosts a very rare chalk stream, one of only 220 known around the globe. Its fragile ecosystem is already endangered from rainwater run-off pollution from Codicote Road. 

“It was acknowledged during the Inspector’s hearing that the new access road would generate additional run-off pollution,” WPAG said. 

Digswell 

Digswell Viaduct

Digswell Viaduct - Credit: Samantha Bearman

Building on Digswell's New Road was rejected from the 2016 and 2019 versions of the Local Plan, "in large part due to the damage it would do its historic heritage landscape".

However, "the Inspector believes that Digswell has not done enough to contribute to the borough-wide housing need" especially as there is a railway station in the area. The council is proposing a development of 80-100 homes on the northern end of the site.

WPAG believe this development will spoil the historic views of the railway viaduct and Tewin Water and remove land that is currently being used for farming.

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