Village green application for Singlers Marsh hopes to save area from development
- Credit: Kevin Lines
A formal consultation to make Singlers Marsh an official village green is underway - which residents believe could help protect the area from houses being built nearby.
The marsh is currently designated as a local nature reserve but this doesn't prevent proposals to build a new dual lane bridge across the River Mimram, taking a slice off Singlers Marsh, and 240 new houses around Fulling Mill Lane and Kimpton Road.
Local action group Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group are among many fighting to have the site recognised as a village green to protect it from development, but to achieve this they need to prove that a significant number of locals have had unrestricted access over the last 20 years.
On WPAG's website they state that: "Registration of land as a village green is likely to prevent development.
"It becomes is a criminal offence to undertake any act which interrupts the use or enjoyment of a green as a place for exercise and recreation or to cause any damage to the green."
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The plans to build 240 houses by the marsh were not included in the most recent version of the Local Plan, which allowed the group to submit an application to Herts County Council back in 2020 - if it had been the application would have been stopped.
What is a village green?
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The Open Spaces Society defines a village green as "any land on which a significant number of inhabitants of any area has indulged in lawful sports and pastimes, for 20 years, as of right".
WPAG now need a ‘significant’ number of local inhabitants to show that they have enjoyed access over the last two decades.
‘Significant’ in this context is considered to be five to 10 per cent of locals and the more people from within the immediate vicinity of the area the stronger the evidence.
WPAG is keen to hear from groups who have used Singlers Marsh such as schools, Scouts and the Welwyn Festival.
Another constraint to the plan is that the landowner WHBC would need to agree to the status change.
Residents who wish to support the application can now complete a questionnaire, which can be downloaded from www.wpag.org.uk, though they need to be submitted by September 30.