Hertford is the county town of Hertfordshire, located some twenty miles North of London.
It has a population today of around 24,000 people, with many residents commuting into London via the rail links into London King's Cross and Moorgate from Hertford North station and into London Liverpool Street and Stratford from Hertford East. The town still retains the feel of a country-town despite its proximity to both London and the New Towns of Stevenage and Harlow where modern developments have been focussed - although traffic congestion is a continuing concern.
Hertford Civic Society was formed over 40 years ago to protect the architectural heritage of the county town and to encourage the best in contemporary design.
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After months of hard work and planning, the sculpture commemorating Alfred Russel Wallace was finally unveiled on 18 October 2014 to a crowd of up to a hundred people outside Hertford Theatre.
Dr George Beccaloni, curator of orthopteroidea and the Wallace Collection at the Museum of Natural History, welcomed this acknowledgement of Wallace, who was a world famous scientist at his death in 1913 but whose reputation had since been eclipsed by that of Darwin.
Local sculptor Rodney Munday told us that he had “welcomed the opportunity to give something back to Hertford”, and how he had been inspired to include a bird of paradise in his portrait sculpture of Wallace, which is now attached to the theatre wall.
The Society’s chairman Terry Betts thanked all those who had contributed to the project. These included Hertford Civic Society, East Herts Council and Hertford Town Council for the funding and our vice-chairman Malcolm Ramsay who organised the competition and public consultation which led to the selection of the design. Music was provided on the day by the Richard Hale School Band.
Wallace (1823-1913), who 'discovered' evolution alongside Charles Darwin, was brought up and educated in Hertford.
Van Hage submitted an application for ‘Part demolition and refurbishment of existing garden centre with café extension: erection of food store with café and external seating’ and associated works. The food store was clearly intended to be occupied by Waitrose. The Civic Society submitted objections on grounds of Green Belt, lack of retail need and impact on Hertford town-centre. The full text of those objections is available HERE
The Council Officers prepared a forthright report recommending refusal of the application. Some of the objections spelled out in that report were identical to those raised by the Society. Van Hage withdrew the application before it could be considered by the Development Management Committee. It was announced that the applicant promised to come back with an amended application in due course.
Such an application was duly made and considered. The officers made a forthright recommendation for refusal on Green Belt grounds and because of the adverse impact an out-of-town store would have on the town centres of Hertford and Ware. However members resolved to grant planning permission, and the matter will have to be referred to the Secretary of State because the proposal conflicts with national policies. The Civic Society has written to the Secretary of State urging him to call in the application for his own decision.
At the end of August Wrenbridge held a public consultation on their proposals for a major re-development by erecting information boards in Bircherley Green and answering queries from passers by. Some of our members also made comments to our Chairman Terry Betts by email and these, anonymised, are available HERE with the information supplied by Wrenbridge.
You can also view the details provided by Wrenbridge HERE
Although Wrenbridge had stated that a formal application would be submitted early in 2015, they now appear to have decided, in the light of the Council's decision on the Van Hage application, to put their proposals for Bircherley Green on hold.
In February East Herts Council published a Draft District Plan, which will play a crucial role in assessing future planning applications. The public had 12 weeks to submit objections and comments. The Civic Society Committee and other volunteer members spent considerable time and effort reviewing the Draft Plan which can be found HERE. There you can also find all the objections and comments submitted to the Council attached to the paragraphs and policies to which they refer.
A consolidated version of Society's submissions running to nearly 10,000 words can be found HERE
The Summer 2014 Newsletter summarises the Society's position in just over two pages and can be downloaded HERE
To date, the Council have responded to only some of the objections and comments made. Objections to the overall strategy of the Draft Plan have not yet been addressed.