Letters and Press

Here you can find letters and press coverage regarding the housing proposal and other Panshanger issues.

August 27th: The below letter was printed in the WHT:

Dear Sirs,

Following on from your article last week covering the Conservative councillor’s aerodrome petition, and criticism of it by others, Panshanger People as a local community group welcomes all efforts to preserve the airfield and get the best deal for Panshanger.  We are apolitical and would not enter into party political point scoring, but we would urge that all party councillors get behind our campaign, and use their influence in the council chamber to make sure the next version of the WHBC local plan, due out very soon, acts to preserve the airfield and proposes to spread housing development until 2031 across the entire borough.

The 2012 draft plan did not spread housing geographically across the borough. We would hope all local party councillors would see of the merits of doing this, and will press for it to happen this time around. The most important thing right now is for everyone to work together to preserve the green spaces of our town today and ensure it is not blighted by continued edge of town suburban sprawl, widely recognised in planning studies as the least sustainable, least popular, form of local development.

Regarding the petition, we considered launching our own petition but decided against for the time being, although we may do one in the future,  depending on what the forthcoming draft local plan proposes for Panshanger. Right now, we call on all local parties and their councillors to work with ourselves as residents to not only give tacit support for our aims, but to pro-actively take action that makes sure we achieve those aims. Our community group has over 1000 supporters, all of which oppose the closure of the airfield in favour of a large housing development.

We call on all party councillors, including those on the council cabinet, to recognise the strength of feeling that exists among local people and to act accordingly. If the localism agenda means anything, and has any teeth at all, our collective voice will be heard and acted upon by all our representatives on the council. We expect nothing less, and certainly not a local plan that focusses all significant development in one or two large areas, leaving a large proportion of the borough, mostly the southern half, out of any future housing development plans. This is not a sustainable approach to local plan making in our view, and the independent planning inspector who has the final say on the local plan proposed will see it as such. It’s worth noting that even though the airfield will be forced to close by the land owner the site will remain designated as an airfield until such time as the new local plan is officially adopted, which will likely be at least another year away.

Regards,

Panshanger People.

13th August 2014: The Welwyn Times this week printed a letter from Panshanger People in it’s letters page. We thank the newspaper for it’s ongoing coverage of the issue. You can read the letter below:

Dear Sir,

I feel compelled to respond to the statements made about Panshanger airfield in a letter you printed last week. I am local to the airfield and for your nameless contributor to say flights are more frequent than Heathrow is extremely misleading. Heathrow officially had almost half a million flights last year, to compare this to the small grass airstrip at Panshanger which can only operate during daylight hours is quite ludicrous. Similarly, to say the aircraft are ‘thundering’ along is also far-fetched. They do make a noise of course, but these are small engined light aircraft, hardly the roar of a Rolls Royce jet engine, no jets fly into Panshanger. The occasional acrobatic aircraft might be a bit noisier but this has been a feature of Panshanger for decades. Visitors to my house have always been thrilled to see an impromptu flying display in the skies above, it’s become part of the character and ritual of living in our part of town. Indeed, a quick search online will take you to a 1956 film of the Herts Police Flying Club flying Tiger Moths at the aerodrome way back when.

An airfield has operated here for over 60 years. The site is a designated aero-sports facility and as such has some protection under national planning legislation; it is of course licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority and as such has to meet national safety standards. He is also incorrect to state that the previous flying club sold off land for housing. The land has been owned by the same family since 1953, it is this family’s company, Mariposa, which now plans to close the airfield in the hope that doing so will make it easier to secure planning consent for the site.

Even if the flying club is forced to leave in September by the landowner, the site will still have that designation. It is obvious your letter writer is not a fan of the airfield and of course everyone is entitled to their view. I have spoken to a great many local people over the last couple of years about the airfield and I have to say he is very much in the minority. Most people are happy for the airfield to remain as a defining characteristic of Panshanger, the fact that the Panshanger People community group campaigns on this and has over 1,000 supporters, most of them local, is testament to that.

Many people are also justifiably worried about what could replace it. A sprawling new housing development could consume a large chunk of countryside and deliver the double whammy of being a) Too expensive for most people in need of their first home, and b) Lack supporting infrastructure which would place enormous pressure on the facilities and services that residents already living here rely on today.

The landowner’s last development proposal in 2009 revealed a lot of houses but very little else to support them. Housing densities have also increased since the 1980’s so any new development on the site is unlikely to have the same spacious proportions that the Bovis estate was gifted with, especially when you consider some of the newer developments nearby which lack parking, verges, and green space in general, it could easily be argued that they don’t fit with the garden city ethos.  Would your letter writer really prefer to live in a Panshanger that includes a huge new development like that? I know I wouldn’t.

_______________

April 18th 2014: The local newspaper ran the below article last week that suggests the government will now be revising upwards the new homes target for Welwyn Hatfield. The leader of the Council John Dean appears to have recently visited  North Mymms Parish Council to talk to them and other local interested parties about this. You can read their response to what he had to say by clicking HERE.

As far as we know he has not addressed any residents groups in Hatfield or WGC about this housing number increase as yet. You may recall that the North Mymms, Brookmans Park, Welham Green were excluded from any significant new housing allocations in the last draft plan, although it’s reported that developers are planning to make speculative planning applications anyway, as is their right under the National Planning Guidelines.  If the housing number is now to be at least doubled it seems the council will be forced to concede that these areas will have to share some of the burden and take some of the new homes.

This is of course what Panshanger People have been suggesting all along, we were never clear why the areas around these villages, which were identified as available for development, were excluded from the draft plan in the first place.

We have not been able to find the ONS information referenced in the WHT article, but will continue to look for it. The WHT article can be read below in two parts, click to enlarge them.

 

Main article

Main article

 

Accompanying comment

Accompanying comment

 

Panshanger People commends the WHT for updating residents on this important local issue. Letters commenting on this can of course emailed to them at letters@whtimes.co.uk. Their website is of course whtimes.co.uk

____________________________________________________

 

From August 24th 2013:

Panshanger airfield wildlife

Click on the picture to enlarge

The Welwyn & Hatfield Times carried a story about wildlife on the airfield in the August 14th edition. Our group were asked to comment on the issue and were very happy to do so. We believe there is diverse wildlife across the airfield area, but that detailed surveys were not carried out in preparation of the Emerging Core Strategy.  Thank you to the WHT for covering this important local issue.

 

1) Previous letters to the local press and head of WHBC:

2)

Peter, a pupil at Springmead School was so concerned at the possible loss of the airfield and surrounding green space that he wrote to the queen, well done Peter!

Even better was that he had a reply from Buckingham Palace and the queen’s office. See his letter, and the reply below (click to enlarge).

Letter about Panshanger airfield

To the queen

The reply:

From the Queen

From the Queen

2)

Click here to read the letter from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, they are unambiguous in their stance, the final paragraph reads:

 “As things stand  we  consider  that  the  current  lack  of  clarity makes  the  soundness  of  the  strategy questionable and could lead to an unsound Core Strategy. We call on the Council to review its documents and re-consult.”

3)

WHBC is keen to point out that although they did not specifically leaflet some or all of the homes in the borough about the Core Strategy consultation, they did include it in their Autumn 2012 edition of the glossy Life Magazine which is distrubuted to all homes in the borough.

However, there was no mention at all of the Core Strategy on the front cover (lesser items were mentioned) and there was no mention at all of Panshanger in the coverage on pages 8 & 9, click the link below to see what appeared in the magazine.

From Life Magazine: Issue 43 Autumn Winter 2012.

Many people we have spoken to have commented on how this magazine is often treated as junk mail and goes from door mat to recycling bin without being read. This may partly explain how a large proportion of the people we spoke to whilst out publicising the consultation ourselves in late January knew nothing of the housing proposal or the consultation.