'It's a fine old mess you've got us into'

PUBLISHED: 13:11 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:30 26 October 2009

Signs like this one showing work due to begin in 2008

Signs like this one showing work due to begin in 2008

THERE was outrage and disbelief throughout Hatfield this week as news emerged that plans for a £100m new town centre had been put on ice. News of the move was exclusively revealed on the WHT's website www.whtimes24.co.uk last week, as soon as it reached u

THERE was outrage and disbelief throughout Hatfield this week as news emerged that plans for a £100m new town centre had been put on ice.

News of the move was exclusively revealed on the WHT's website www.whtimes24.co.uk last week, as soon as it reached us.

There was further anger that no hint of the decision had come to light during the run-up to the borough council elections.

We broke the story on Thursday, election day.

Signs saying work was due to begin on the project in 2008 are all over town.

But both the council and developers St Modwen have confirmed this will not now happen.

Neither could they give any firm date as to when work might begin.

St Modwen blamed the unstable state of the finance, retail and property markets as the reasons why plans have ground to a halt.

Now town centre traders have been left fearing for their futures.

Byron Guilhaumaud, who works at Hatfield Travel Agent in the area affected by the halted revamp, said: "The council has run this side of the town centre down and built up the other side across the motorway.

"Obviously that is more attractive.

"Of course they would want to improve this side."

Danny Devine at Howard Carpets was "disappointed" for the people of Hatfield.

He said: "We deserve much better.

"They had this planned 10 or 15 years ago."

Ashwin Shah from Smarty Newsagent was infuriated.

"We were supposed to have this by 2006 but it never happened and I think they have left it too late now," he said.

"As Laurel and Hardy said, 'it's a fine old mess you have got us into'."

* DESPITE dismissing any chance of work beginning on the town centre this year, council bigwigs were keen to reassure residents that plans were merely on hold.

Bob Jewell, chief resources officer for Welwyn Hatfield Council, said: "Welwyn Hatfield Council and [developers] St Modwen are still absolutely committed to the redevelopment of Hatfield town centre.

"The current economic conditions have inevitably impacted on the uptake of retail lets, but St Modwen are actively seeking appropriate retail outlets and buying up properties.

"We will be meeting with St Modwen in June as usual to discuss further progress of the project.


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