© 2017 The Harpenden Society
When my wife and I came to Harpenden in 1961 we were invariably able to park in the High Street without difficulty at any time to do our shopping. Fifty-five years on, car parking has become the town’s day-to-day nightmare. The district council’s decision to abandon its plan for a controlled parking zone (CPZ) for the Avenues area shows how apparently hopeless the situation has become.
There is clearly no short-term solution. Those drivers, including modestly-paid employees of retailers coming to work from outside the town who want to avoid onerous car park charges, quite understandably look for kerbside parking spaces.
But the reality is that, by the time most of Waitrose or Sainsbury’s staff get into Harpenden in the morning, the Avenues area is already clogged with cars, many of them belonging to well-heeled London commuters.
Wanting to avoid payment for parking is a natural instinct for every driver. A separate, though inevitably inter-connected issue, is that of finding a space in the town’s official car parks. During the week, even at a cost of £7.60 a day, the railway station car parks are often full by 8.30am. Spaces in Bowers Way and Amenbury Lane pay-and-display car parks can be just as scarce.
In the longer term it seems inevitable that Harpenden residents will have to resign themselves to the unlovely sight of one or more multi-storey car parks like those at St Albans and Luton Parkway stations – or simpler and less costly ‘second deck’ structures. They would be an ugly intrusion on the townscape, but perhaps no worse that the unsightly station footbridge erected by Network Rail with no local community consultation.
As for the shorter term, let’s give three cheers for the Harpenden Hopper community bus venture, which could enable shoppers and possibly some commuters, who face regular parking frustrations, to leave their cars at home.
In a late autumn project aimed at restoring some of Harpenden Common’s depleted flora, the Town Council has sought to spread the coverage of heather between the fairways of the golf course. As the council’s commons and greens officer Heidi Mansell explains, it is hoped thereby to enhance the local ecosystem, attracting invertebrates, in turn further supporting the common’s bird life.
A team of volunteers helped to take cuttings – or ‘brash’ – from established crops of heather on Nomansland Common, allowing them to be laid over a 650 sq ft area, about 100 yards south of Harpenden Common golf clubhouse. The turf had first to be lifted and the subsoil raked, allowing the dropped heather flower seeds to take root and germinate. As a precaution against unwanted raids by ‘heather hungry’ wildlife, especially rabbits, the area is protected by a 3ft-high wire mesh fence.