ABOUT KEEP THE G
We are fighting against the destruction of the most complete Garden City in the world.
We are a community group focussed on working with residents, developers and the local authority
to ensure that new developments offer sustainable and tangible benefits to Welwyn Garden City, and
that they complement, enhance and reflect garden city principles, values and heritage
Statement from Founder: Martin Norman
Keep the G in WGC
I’ve had the privilege of living in both Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City (my place of birth and home since 2009). Now; most people will consider that in order to be called a City? A Town seeking this status should have a Cathedral; that’s my broad understanding. We know that for billions of people, a place of worship will provide them with the serenity, solace and comfort which prompted their visit to start with.
It was during late May 2021, whilst sat in my garden one afternoon, that I wondered if Ebenezer Howard may well have considered that access to one’s own green space could equally provide someone with similar serenity, solace and comfort? A place to admire nature, listen to birdsong, look at beautiful plants and vividly coloured flowers. Naturally I do respect that a garden is not a church, but I believe there are some parallels to be drawn.
So; bearing in mind what a privilege it is to have access to my own private garden, natural green space (especially when countless numbers were trapped indoors, in flats several storeys high), my thoughts turned to the current developments being built, and future plans, which are for the most part high density multi storey tower blocks. There simply is no comparison and I cannot see how such designs will ever look at home in Welwyn Garden City. Hence, ‘’Keep the G in WGC’’ was formed.
Ebenezer Howard was in my opinion a genius. His ideas have proven to be way ahead of their time, with his concept of ‘’Country living with Town benefits’’ proving so successful, both towns attract visitors from all over the world, with his blueprints recognised as essential study for countless people.
Both towns are replete with examples of a truly holistic imagination which I consider comparable to the architectural brilliance examples of Gaudi, found in thousands of places throughout Barcelona.
It is crucial therefore that in order for Howard’s impressive legacy to continue thriving for our future generations, our communities must pull together and scrutinise all future plans and developments, which are at the moment totally at odds with the Garden City ethos. This group was never intended to be anti development; indeed we are all acutely aware of the chronic housing shortage across the UK and particularly focused here in Hertfordshire.
I believe there are always alternative solutions that can be found, avoiding excessive housing targets being imposed upon Welwyn Garden City to the extent that the original ethos will, unless we press hard for a complete re-think, be irreversibly eroded. Mistakes of design and poor decisions, will lead to a far too dense, far too high succession of developments. Another negative impact will be intrusion on well-established conservation areas and a very significant reduction in the quality of life not just for existing residents but also for those looking to move here. Those tasked with studying the design concepts of Welwyn Garden City will no longer be able to find them. Instead, they will only find archetypal high density tower blocks such as in London’s suburbs and the Midlands.
Here’s to our wonderful Community pulling together in this campaign, and preserving the legacy that Ebenezer Howard so kindly established for us. There may be much hard work ahead, but by working together in common cause, we can achieve so much!
Ebenezer Howard’s vision was to welcome everyone to a diverse community with people from all backgrounds living in Peace, Friendship and able to enjoy each other’s company, celebrating art, culture and shared love and appreciation of beautiful natural surroundings, with tree-lined streets and an abundance of green space for all to enjoy.
A typical street in WGC shows how a build 15-years ago was in keeping with a build back in 1949.
What could be more idyllic? We believe passionately in Community Spirit, and since we have lived here, everyone has wrapped their wings around us with friendship, care and compassion. That includes everyone in Healthcare, our Neighbours, and everyone we stop and talk to.
All of what has been achieved is in danger; grave danger because of ill-thought developments, in progress and proposed, which will have a very significant negative impact on every resident of this Town, even those wanting to settle here, notwithstanding visitors and admirers from all over the World.
No regard is being paid to the desperate need for additional infrastructure to support our new homes. The existing infrastructure, from Healthcare, education and shops to transport is already beyond breaking point. Due diligence and adherence to the Council’s OWN regulations is proving non-existent. Planning meetings simply do not take into consideration the impact on quality of life and wellbeing. Despite the declaration of a climate emergency, the Council are willing to build up to 10 storey blocks of flats, which will only worsen the energy crisis. People will suffer from a decline in good mental health, reduction in light, as well as being subject to noise pollution and environmental damage.
None of this is a “done deal”; please do not be disheartened. The Council has caused deliberate confusion with all of their plans. Due to intense public pressure and anger, we have already successfully influenced the Council to reject the BioPark development in 2021. We think the extremely rapid growth of this group has gone a long way towards raising awareness and encouraging action. At its best, it is Community Spirit and proof that every resident can raise their voices and objections.
You may be thinking, What can I do? There are many ways. On this website, you will see many links to our social media presence, where you will be welcomed into the group. Some links will take you directly to the proposed development plans and give you the opportunity to object in writing. Talk to your friends, neighbours, mention the group on your own social media pages. You can email your ward Councillor, reminding them of their duty to listen to and act on the concerns of their constituents.
We also need those of you who are able to, to attend future Council DMC meetings in 2022. Keep an eye on Facebook, twitter, instagram, website and news notices.
We know we have a housing crisis. Indeed, with the BioPark & other Wheat Quarter plans, little or no provision has been made for ANY SOCIAL HOUSING, despite the Council having strict regulations in place regarding allocations. We have no doubt the same will apply to other developers plans.
We intend to hold the Council to account, forcing them to demonstrate far greater accountability and transparency in everything they intend to do. With the help of such wonderful people, we know that together we can ensure the legacy and ethos of the Garden City concept is adhered to robustly, that our grandchildren and beyond can be proud of.