New country park opens in Hatfield

NEW jet engines used to be tested there and, more recently, World War Two ‘soldiers’ fought battles on the land. But now you can tread, quite literally, in the footsteps of the likes of Tom Hanks.

For a new country park has opened up to the public.

The 400-acre site, called Ellenbrook Fields, was once part of the British Aerospace site between Hatfield and St Albans.

Originally a jet engine test area and airfield, it was then used as part of the set for blockbuster movie Saving Private Ryan and mini-series Band of Brothers.

Ten years ago, Welwyn Hatfield Council and St Albans City & District Council secured the site as green space as part of the planning permission granted for the development of Hatfield Business Park.

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And now, Ellenbrook Fields is a large open space for all to enjoy. The site has been converted into parkland with footpaths, hay meadows, a bridleway and woodland.

It will also retain the airfield’s taxiway for heritage and access purposes, and have information panels, picnic benches and seating.

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Half of the land will also be used for cattle grazing.

Cllr Mandy Perkins, executive member for planning at Welwyn Hatfield Council, said: “This project has been planned for more than 10 years and I am glad it is finally ready to be opened.

“I hope it will be a valuable asset to the area and really enjoyed by the local people all year round for picnics, dog walking, running and hiking.”

The footpaths and bridleways through Ellenbrook Fields are currently best accessed as part of a longer walk or ride as there is no dedicated car park.

A small car park may be provided in the future if a suitable spot can be found.

The site will originally be managed by the developer, Goodman, but will be handed over to a yet-to-be-formed preservation trust.

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