Last week, we marked World Mental Health Day once again with our annual Beating of the Bounds event. The traditional walk around part of the parish boundaries was made extra special this year as members of the Town Council came face to face with members of Colney Heath Parish Council when the two groups met at along the Alban Way at the parish boundary; and whilst there may not have been exact agreement over where the boundary exists between the two parishes on the old railway line, everyone was keen celebrate the Green Belt and the green spaces which residents are able to enjoy in the area.
The ancient beating the bounds ritual was thought to be used by parishes to pass on local knowledge through the generations before maps were readily available. This ensured the parish boundaries were respected and there were no encroachments from neighbouring parishes. And while the availability of detailed maps make the event less of a necessity, Councillors on both sides highlighted the need to celebrate and protect the existing Green Belt boundaries between the two settlements.
Cllr Gareth Aicken, Mayor of Hatfield, remarked “both Hatfield and St Albans have proud histories, stretching back centuries, with both having entries in the Domesday Book. It would be a travesty if uncontrolled development on the Green Belt effectively merged the two, swallowing up Smallford and Ellenbrook. Not only would the areas lose their unique identities, but residents would also lose this wonderful green space”.
It’s a timely reminder as both St Albans City and District Council and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council are looking to finalise and adopt their respective Local Plans. These plans will guide housing development over the next decade and residents are increasingly becoming concerned on the impact this will have on the Green Belt.
Our two councils are also working together to oppose the renewed quarry application being considered by Hertfordshire County Council for Ellenbrook, which they claim has the potential to cause irreversible environmental damage to the area, drinking water and residents’ health.
“If the Covid pandemic taught us one thing, is that people need access to nature for their mental health” Cllr Mick Wise added. “The primary purpose of the Green Belt is to prevent urban sprawl and its vital that as St Alban City and District Council and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council implement their Local Plans, that planners and developers are mindful of the benefits the Green Belt and opens spaces bring to local residents”. Both parishes are working together to protect the green spaces in the area, not least in joining forces to oppose the proposed new quarry in Ellenbrook, which would straddle the parishes and swallow up, for decades, land that should be used for a country park.