Organisers of WGC protest calling for public support

Jim Barker, organiser of the WGC protest event, with some of the leaflets distributed to residents.

Jim Barker, organiser of the WGC protest event, with some of the leaflets distributed to residents. - Credit: Keep the G in WGC

Thousands of leaflets have been distributed across the town ahead of a major protest to save Welwyn Garden City from unwanted development at the weekend.

Volunteers delivered 18,000 leaflets in the space of eight days in a bid to reach as much of the local population as possible.

The family-friendly protest will take place on Saturday (April 23) from 1.45-3.15pm in the town centre. The event is designed to enable residents to show concerns about WGC’s over-development and has been jointly organised by Keep the G in WGC, WGC Heritage Trust and WGC Society.

Organiser, and member of the Keep the G in WGC group Jim Barker, said: “I am in awe of the people who have volunteered to spread word of the event.

"We’ve had people helping in every corner of the town, some delivering literally thousands of leaflets. I hope this means people will come out on Saturday and support us.”

Russ Platt, ward councillor for Peartree, where much of the borough’s development is planned, said: “It’s important to state that this is not an anti-development protest.

"People know that the council is under pressure from the government inspector to build more dwellings, and I think that everyone acknowledges that we need new housing; nobody I know is against it, including the three groups organising the march.

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"The march is against over-development in our town, development that has insufficient infrastructure, development that doesn’t help the social needs of local residents, and development that ignores the important heritage of our gorgeous, world-renowned, garden city.”

The organisers are keen that people know that the protest focuses on the threat to the heritage and character of the town from high density, high rise and badly designed tower blocks, that are not in keeping with the town’s character, setting and Garden City ethos.

They claim there is an unfair allocation of homes in the Local Plan, a lack of vision for the town centre, and a lack of social housing to provide much-needed homes for local people.

Organisers have accused the borough council of displaying apathy and indifference towards the legacy of Ebenezer Howard and the impact of these proposed new developments on localinfrastructure including health and wellbeing, GP surgeries, schools, parking and traffic.

Jim added: “The protest is about people wanting to make sure that what is built is of benefit to present and future residents. Development should be fairly distributed around the borough, and should protect our 101 year old town for another 100 years and beyond.

"Hopefully this peaceful event will go some way to helping the message get to the council, the developer and the inspector.”

Marchers are asked to meet on the Campus roundabout. From there the march will proceed down Parkway and Howardsgate, meeting at the Ebenezer Howard statue for a moment to recognise the impact of Howard’s vision, before proceeding to front of the Howard Centre for speeches. Protesters are asked to bring their placards, their voices and to wear something green.