Waking up the neigbourhood in Welwyn Hatfield
NEWS editor Chris Lennon continues the WHT's series of features focusing on different aspects of the core strategy – which is a blueprint that will steer development in Welwyn Hatfield until 2026. This week: neighbourhood and village centres.
News editor Chris Lennon continues the WHT's series of features focusing on different aspects of the core strategy - which is a blueprint that will steer development in Welwyn Hatfield until 2026.
This week: neighbourhood and village centres.
BACK in the day, Garden City and New Town planning principles called for discrete neighbourhoods.
And the borough of Welwyn Hatfield has these in abundance - 23 neighbourhood and village centres, to be precise.
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And that's not including Old Hatfield or the fairly new Parkhouse Court development, both of which are recommended to be designated as a 'large neighbourhood centre' as part of this process.
Paperwork within the core strategy states: "These centres represent an important asset, providing shops and services mostly within walking distance of where people live and acting as hubs for local communities.
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"The roles of these centres are changing, but the existing district plan policies have been largely successful in maintaining the vitality of these centres.
"An important issue the core strategy will need to address in the light of housing growth and the possible need to create new neighbourhoods, is how to maintain and enhance the roles of these centres to provide the day-to-day services that people need without having to use motorised transport."
And that's the issue in a nutshell. For what happens to these centres largely relies on other parts of the core strategy - namely housing.
For depending on where the thousands of homes being forced upon us eventually get built, council planners will have to think about whether or not to build new neighbourhood centres, or upgrade the existing ones.
Upgrading centres would help ensure local residents' needs are met locally. Although, on the flip side, these centres may not be easily accessible to people living in new housing developments.
While new centres would help define new communities, the downside could see existing facilities slip into decline or, worse still, close altogether.
But don't go panicking that your local shopping parade is in danger of closing.
For the council's 'issues and options' document states: "Our main priority is that the role of existing neighbourhood and village centres should be maintained and, when opportunities arise, resources should be drawn in to enhance and improve them."
* Large neighbourhood centres, such as Haldens or Woodhall in WGC:
Purpose built to serve their respective neighbourhoods in accordance with masterplans for WGC and Hatfield.
Each has a small supermarket, newsagent, pharmacy and other shops, typically including a baker and a hairdresser.
Most have a post office (well, unless POL has shut it!) and most have a pub, community centre and GP surgery nearby.
* Large village centres, such as Brookmans Park and Welwyn:
These centres provide a range of shops, services and community facilities providing for day-to-day needs.
Most have GP surgeries and a small supermarket, post office, newsagent and pub.
* Small neighbourhood centres, such as Birchwood and Harpsfield Broadway in Hatfield:
These generally have a smaller range and choice of shops and services than large neighbourhood centres.
Most have at least a small general store and newsagent but they do not generally have other community facilities.
* Small village centres, such as Digswell and Woolmer Green:
These have a more limited range of shops usually without other services. Most have village halls.