Tesco bosses plan to demolish Ponsbourne Park

CONCERNS have been raised over supermarket bosses’ plans to demolish a country house estate in favour of a training facility for their staff.

The plans for Ponsbourne Park estate in Newgate Street Village were put before Welwyn Hatfield councillors at a special forum on Thursday and would see owners Tesco flatten a 19th-century manor house, currently home to a hotel and conference centre.

Tesco plans to build a world-class state-of-the-art facility on the 42-acre site it has owned since 1987.

Tesco corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman said: “This is of strategic importance; this is a flagship project for us.”

Colleague Peta Hay said having the base in Hertfordshire was ideal for the company, which had 8,000 employees in the county.

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She said: “We’ll be able to provide training for cashiers right up to board level and where we do that is highly relevant to us.

“We want to develop that in Herts. It’s the spiritual home of Tesco.

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“Our people across the world see Cheshunt, Herts and WGC as where it all began, that’s why we particularly want to be in Herts.”

Although the plans show an overall reduction in the footprint on site by nine per cent, as agricultural outbuildings would also be demolished, invited speaker Hatfield town mayor Linda Clark said she was concerned about increased traffic flow, building on the Green Belt and loss of the manor house.

Council leader and ward councillor John Dean said he was glad to hear Tesco was keen to restore the park.

But he added: “I’m sorry to hear you don’t feel the same about the house and hotel which is dear in the heart of all the villagers.

“I’m concerned people that live along that road, in a quiet corner of Hertfordshire, are going to have a great deal of traffic going past their front doors.”

He also said he failed to see what “exceptional special qualities” had been demonstrated to allow the development to be built on the Green Belt.

Councillor Mandy Perkins also asked why Tesco was looking at a similar scheme in Theobalds Park in nearby Cheshunt.

Tesco bosses assured councillors this was their preferred site and they were keen to listen to residents before submitting a detailed planning application.

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