As one of the area’s local running community I am constantly on the look-out for new trails to explore and navigate, particularly during the short summer season.
Although I had regularly run — both independently and as part of the local running club — from Gosling Sports Park in Stanborough, across the top of Hatfield Business Park to Symondshyde Farm, before returning through Cromer Hyde and Brocket Park, it was only relatively recently that I discovered two longer, and more breathtaking runs which exposed the beautiful nature of the area even further.
The first took me from Welwyn Garden town centre through Sherrardswood, down the Ayot Greenway to Devil’s Dyke and across the fields of Coleman Green towards Symondshyde Farm; the second approach was from the other direction — from the University campus, through Ellenbrook Fields to Nashes Farm and through the idyllic Symondshyde Great Wood.
I have no direct connection with Symondshyde — other than a passion for some of the ales emanating from its microbrewery — other than having navigated the tracks and country lanes leading through it. But I have fallen in love with it.
On almost every occasion I have undertaken these runs I have come across either a local rambling club or platoon of cyclists, generally in the Wood, on Hammonds Lane or on the field trail leading out to Beech Hyde Lane. There is also plenty of evidence that horses pass regularly along these tracks — and by following this tell-tale trail there is certainly no danger of getting lost!
It was therefore with some dismay that I learnt of the planning application, currently under review, to build 1130 dwellings in the Green Belt east from Coleman Green.
I have a fairly sanguine view when it comes to planning applications — I am certainly not part of the Nimby brigade, and people need to live somewhere. But having been a resident of Ellenbook for 21 years, seen the Business Park spring up, the inexorable conurbation Hatfield > St. Albans conurbation through Smallford with the new University of Hertfordshire campus and growing influx of students, one starts to fear for the level of over-development of the area. It all becomes a bit mystifying.
Add to this the planning application for a quarry right in the middle of the 400-acre Ellenbrook Fields country park (now both a Heritage Trail and home to a new parkrun) — as well as other planning applications even closer to home — and my immediate thoughts are ‘Where is the infrastructure to support this?’ and ‘How can infrastructure be created?’
In the case of Symondshyde, now that I know the area a little better, it seems to be bounded, without exception, by the narrowest of country lanes … Hammonds Lane, Beech Hyde Lane, Dyke Lane, Cromer Hyde Lane, Coleman Green Lane, Woodcock Hill etc, I am at a loss to see how these could be engineered to support the social requirements of 1300 new dwellings.
I wish you every success in your fight to preserve the heritage and natural beauty of the area. From a selfish point of view, even if the footpaths and bridleways are preserved, running, cycling and walking the area will never be the same. The natural rural splendor (and wildlife habitat) will almost certainly be destroyed and if existing Nature and historic Heritage Trails are not to be preserved from being overlooked by vast housing estates, then where is safe?
Join the Campaign
Just enter your name and email address to join the campaign and keep up to date with progress.
By submitting your email address, you are giving us permission to contact you about the Save Symondshyde campaign. Your details will be held securely and we won't pass on the information to anyone else.