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Memos From Members

Spring 2014 Newsletter

Whither the Housing Crisis

Dear Editor,

With reference to your "The countryside is empty" item in the Winter issue:  the problem with statistics is that one nearly always needs more information.  So as regards you seeing only one person walking in the

countryside on a train journey from London to Chester, I would want to know weekday or weekend?, wet or dry?, summer or winter?; and how much of the 'vast and under-utilised wilderness'  does one actually see from a train?   I say this because other statistics suggest that walking in the countryside is one of the main forms of recreational exercise for the population at large either in organised groups, of which several round here, with friends or, as you saw, with the dog (cf. Nomansland car park most days!).

More crucially,  we grow only just over half the food we consume and with a burgeoning population, it's not surprising that we now have 'tracts of industrialised agriculture'.  In that regard, my own view is that it would be sensible to keep part of the nearby Woodland Trust site in productive agriculture rather than all put down to trees.

For many years, the Harpenden Society had cordial relations with the local branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, CPRE.   We monitored developments in the local built environment, they kept an eye on the Hertfordshire countryside -  something in tune with the wishes of  many local residents, witness the rapid growth of the local Green Belt Association some years ago.  Along with it having sufficient size to support many local activities, it's surely the close proximity of the surrounding 'greenery' that makes Harpenden such an attractive place to live.

As to 'eco-towns', I'll leave that to others but when there was pressure for a mini-town just to the North in the 70s, the Society's membership near doubled overnight!  - John Davis


Editor's note: I heartily welcome John's letter, for my hope is to generate some argument and exchange of views in these columns in respect of my 'The Harpenden in Question' editorial.

It also gives me the chance to remind readers that, in consequence of governmental neglect over many years, the nation is faced with a catastrophic housing crisis requiring, it is claimed, some 250,000 new-built units annually – the equivalent of twenty Harpendens every year. It is worth noting that in the 30 years to 1981 that target was missed in only one year and in the 30 years after 1981 it has only been achieved once. In 2010 house completions were the lowest since 1923. Yet rather than agreeing and embarking on a national strategy, governments of all colours seem bent on leaving it to local authorities to solve the problem piecemeal, adding at random to existing housing stock, without proper recognition of the infrastructural implications, and by that token nibbling greedily at urban green belt surrounds. That is why it is actually the town, rather than the countryside, that is most at risk and with, accordingly, most people sorely affected..

Luckily, some more far-sighted people, un-fazed by the pastoral fallacy, are looking for more imaginative and less destructive solutions. For example, the Charles Woolfson Charitable Trust have offered a £250,000 prize for the best pattern for  a 'new towns' equivalent suitable to the needs, aspirations and values of the 21st century. May that prove successful.

And then there’s the Parking problem

Dear Editor

Further to Eric Midwinter's article "Being car-full", I wonder if the Society is reacting to the Council's latest attempt to provide parking?

The new roadside parking spaces in  Leyton Road and Amenbury Lane seem to be a knee jerk reaction to parking problems.  Both spaces have the effect of reducing road space and increasing congestion.

The Amenbury spaces are pointless, given that there is a car park a few metres away.  The Leyton Road spaces are decidedly dangerous.  On a southern approach, I have twice found back up extending to the roundabout near the fire station. When cars are parked, not only do you get a back up of cars in both directions (ironically blocking access to the parking area near the British Legion),, but it is not possible to see ahead to see if the road is clear.  

I am happy to make the above points to Council as an individual, but a collective response by the Society might carry more weight. -  Alan Marshall


Editor's note: thanks for this – and The Society's Transport Working Group will look at these points. I hope, Alan, you also saw 'Strolling's' piece in the same edition of the newsletter called 'Personal; Parking and Pedestrians'.

Above: The two new parking spaces in Leyton Road

Heightening the High Street’s Impact

Successful Shopping Initiative for Harpenden Retailers

Christmas 2013 will be remembered by Harpenden Independent retailers as the time they joined the digital age with a page on Facebook to promote their Christmas offers to Harpenden residents.

Launch by Town Mayor Rosemary Farmer at the ‘Lights On’ ceremonies it proved to be a great success for many retailers who enjoyed increased sales.

This was reported in the local press when six retailers were photographed with examples of their best selling products.











Above Left to right Keith Lunn, Breathing Space; Fiona Thomas, Oui; Simon Scott,Milehams; Linda Fullwood, Fullwoods. Roger Hannah, Threads and Aarti Parmar,


Continued success followed in the New Year with the launch of a January Sales theme with a new ‘address’ for the page. www.facebook.com/HarpendenShopping

A Spring theme was introduced in February and further themes will be launched throughout 2014 as part of the ongoing ‘ Thriving High Street’ campaign.

Support your local shops

The campaign was masterminded by Ron Taylor, the Society’s economic working group head in conjunction with The Town Council, The Harpenden Retail Partnership and Harpenden Directory. The design concepts have been created by Aarti Parmar from AV 82, TV, Hi-fi specialists.

The Harpenden High Street including Southdown continues to have a varied selection of independent retailers and chain stores that offer a wide range of products and services. If we want to keep them we need to use them and not just at Christmas.