Harpenden news reports.       2018                       


My wife and I were privileged to have a private viewing of the panels in February this year. They are incredibly beautiful and still in remarkable condition for their age.

A single image can change the face of History

Portrait imagery was the key aspect of the programme. Images whether painted or photographed could have an incredibly powerful influence on the population. Examples featuring Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, and Margaret Thatcher were used to demonstrate this power. Clever or deceptive dependent on your personal position.

Saving the Cottages for the Nation

The current owner, Ms Murphy, from Hertford, explained that she and business partner Alison Wright bought two adjoining cottages, which house the mural between them, specifically to find a way for the paintings to be brought into public ownership.

"The panels should be in the care of the nation - we are committed to finding a way of doing it."

"They are so rare that the paintings must be preserved for both present and future generations, as a sign of those past beliefs and turbulent times," he said.

"We have been pursuing this aim for a number of years and have now launched a public appeal as the only way to preserve them for posterity."

The owner added that if the money couldn't be raised, they would have to apply for a change of use to residential.

Hopefully Simon Schama’s programme will awaken the local Herts authorities to take action now.

Ron Taylor. Editor. Harpendia.com

Hemel’s hidden treasure featured by Simon Schama on BBC TV’s ‘The Face of Britain’ Wed Sept 30

Simon Schama visited Piccott’s End Cottages to show an important aspect of the history of British portraiture, revealing some beautiful and compelling images that demonstrate their eternal power.

Defacing religious paintings

The cottages in Hemel were a resting place for Pilgrims on their journey from Ashridge to nearby St Albans Abbey in the 1530’s. The interior wall panels had been painted extensively with religious murals reflecting imagery of the Christ, the Virgin Mary, and Saints. Scenes include Jesus's baptism, St Catherine of Alexandria, St Peter and St Margaret. During the Reformation the faces of Jesus, Mary and the Saints were obliterated (defaced- see below) to make the images powerless in the sight of anyone who visited the cottages. At some time post Reformation the panels were covered by linen and NOT seen again until 1953.


Lots of information is available via the SADC consultation web site. You have to be registered and then trawl through the hundreds of comments made by commercial organisations and residents. Additionally several ‘gems’ of information were shown (briefly) at The Harpenden Society public meeting on Feb 4 at Rothamsted Conference Centre. My reports starting today (March 2) will be revealed during the coming weeks.

The maps below show the Legal and General proposals for 500 homes and  a new primary school.

How did this expensive proposal or ‘Masterplan’ become a ‘live’ option. Find out in more revelations soon. Ron Taylor. Editor.


Residents will be encouraged to walk and cycle via the routes on the map which are going to be improved.

So what happens with all the new cars being added to already congested roads?

The 500 homes development above is not sacrosanct .

A survey has revealed a large number of small scale sites around Harpenden that could be utilised. Another developer has plans for a 50 home site.


Legal & General have huge land interests in NW Harpenden and south Beds (see map below) They have submitted their concepts to SADC (See part letter below) for the yellow area on the map with detailed plans later on this page.


1,000 plus homes could be built by Cen Beds to cope with Luton Housing shortfall in the PINK area of the map-almost in Harpenden, ON LAND OWNED BY LEGAL & GENERAL. READ THE EMAIL BELOW (EXTRACTS) TO SADC EXPLAINING THEIR REQUIREMENTS



June 2017.

Over 2,000 responses from Harpenden residents now analysed to show their considerations for the future of the town.

The charts below  show the overall information.

Transport and Movement

Environment, Sustainability and Design

Employment and retail


Social Infrastructure and Community Facilities


Male 867            42%

Female 1195       58%


Under 16 4 0.2%;   17-24 11 0.8% ;  25-49 623 30% ;   50-64 624 30% ;     65 and over 800 39%


< 1 year  27 1%;                  1 – 5 years  201 10%;         6 – 10 years  211  11%;

11 – 20 years   357  18%;     21 – 30 years    349    18%;   

31 – 40 years   342  18%;     41 – 50 years     267   14%;   

51 – 60 years   110    6%;      61 – 70 years     63     3% ;

70+ years 29 2%

How can the 948 Sports Foundation help Harpenden schools. associations, clubs and individuals?

Read the article below.

     2018 Awaiting news for the Referendum

Mr Stannard
St Albans City & District Council Planning Services
Civic Centre, St Peters Street St Albans
AL1 3JE 

Monday 5 March 2018

Dear Mr Stannard

Re: Prior Approval for Change of Use at Southdown Industrial Estate - references 5/2018/0204, 5/2018/0205, 5/2018/0206, 5/2018/0207, 5/2018/0208

I am writing to you on behalf of both Harpenden Town Council and the Harpenden Neighbourhood Plan steering group to object to the Prior Approval applications that have been submitted for 5 units at Southdown Industrial Estate.

The Town Council has been working with the local community to produce a Harpenden Neighbourhood Plan that sets out a vision for development in the future. The Neighbourhood Plan has been subject to much community engagement and has recently been submitted for Regulation 16 consultation.

Throughout the development of the Neighbourhood Plan, Southdown Industrial Estate has been recognised by local people as an important employment location for the Town. It is felt that this must be protected to help ensure that Harpenden retains a small but productive amount of employment floorspace.

We have a specific policy in the Neighbourhood Plan that states that ‘a change of use to a non-B Class use at this location will not be supported unless it can be demonstrated that the premises are no longer suitable for business use or there is clear evidence that there is no prospect of a new commercial occupier being found’. We have not seen any evidence that suggests that this site is no longer suitable.

Our objection is on the basis that the conditions of Class P do not appear to have been met based on the information supplied with the Prior Approval application. We believe that a formal planning application is required in order to fully consider these conditions.

Our specific concerns relating to the conditions are set out below:

Air Quality – We have concerns regarding the health and wellbeing of future residents. Residents will be living next to industrial units that through their everyday operations create pollution issues.

Contamination – We are aware of the history of this site and are therefore concerned by the lack of evidence submitted by the applicant with regard to what exists beneath the units. We would expect to see the outcome of exploratory work on the site.

Flood Risk – We have concerns regarding surface water flooding and would expect to see a surface water management strategy.

Noise – This is a busy industrial estate that includes many noisy operations at unsociable hours. The industrial estate is also adjacent to a busy train line. This noise pollution would have a negative impact on future residents.

St Albans City & District Council have recently recognised the importance of this site by consulting on and issuing Article 4 Directions which are due to come into effect on 22 March 2018.

An acceptance of this Prior Approval for Change of Use would directly conflict with the views of local communities who wish to protect the location and would have serious implications to the local economy

Yours sincerely

Carl Cheevers
Town Clerk, Harpenden Town Council

Sept 2018. New property investment scheme launch by Harpenden business man

Nov 22. From Bim Afolami MP

I have just received an update from the CEO of GTR and Route Managing Director for NetworkRail, South East.

I have asked GTR and the officials at DfT to highlight exactly what, if any, 'tweaks' have been made that would impact the line that serves our constituency.

"...We are continuing our work to plan for the 10th [December], with cross checking and validation exercises underway, as per the current industry planning process. Industry planning processes mean we have to publish timetables four weeks in advance of introduction. As you know, our initial wave of customer information has been rolled out to provide passengers with as much notice as possible, as such PDFs of the winter timetable are available online and Journey Planners have been updated with the 3600 trains.

Now that we have some more information we have made a few tweaks to some off peak services for the first four weeks. These will be flagged in Journey Planners so that they are still accurate..."

Cllr Sam Collins.     GTR UPDATE

We wrote to you a few weeks ago to give you an update about 200 additional services being introduced to the current weekday timetable this winter. This is a further update with more detail about our expectations for this winter and the specific work being jointly undertaken to ensure we are ready to bring additional trains into service, bringing our total up to 3,600 trains running every weekday.

December is traditionally a busy month across the transport network. Network Rail will continue to focus on upgrading our aging infrastructure through predominately weekend engineering works during the month. This December this means there will be more extensive and longer lasting engineering work in and out of Victoria, Kentish Town and the Brighton Main Line, in addition to the ongoing planned weekend engineering work.

Customers will see several timetable revisions in December and January, due to a combination of planned engineering work and a bedding in period for the winter timetable.

Final critical maintenance checks will be undertaken in the Thameslink Core, prior to the launch of the new timetable. In parallel, GTR will be working hard to ensure that all trains are in the correct position to provide an effective start on Monday 10th.

In addition, over the festive period, Network Rail will be undertaking engineering work with blockades in the Victoria area and Kentish Town, starting on 23 December. This means that the winter timetable will be in operation for two weeks before Christmas (10 to 14 December and 17 to 21 December) and will then resume fully in the New Year on Monday 7 January.

These two weeks are framed by large scale planned engineering work, as follows:

A revised weekend timetable will operate on 15 and 16 December, due to planned engineering work at Victoria. In addition, there will be no services through Lewes on the Sunday and various other planned engineering work on the Southern network.

A revised weekend timetable will also operate on 5th and 6th January due to planned work between Three Bridges & Brighton (Sunday), No service Peterborough & Sandy, No service between Hurst Green & Uckfield (Sunday)

The full benefits of the timetable will then become apparent once we have had a bedding-in period which includes some service alterations until the end of the holiday period on Monday 7January. Travel may of course be impacted by bad winter weather, but if necessary we have winter contingency plans in place and improving winter resilience in our infrastructure.

We have learned a number of lessons from May including the need to provide better advice to passengers when there are circumstances affecting them, and as a result we have allocated extra resources to ensure we provide quality and timely information to passengers. To aid the deployment of fast information, GTR is rolling out 2000 new smart phones (loaded with the best information apps available) to station and on-board staff so they can respond quickly to customer enquiries. We will also have volunteers from both organisations supporting station teams to assist passengers.

We are in the final stages of completing three new driver depots, (Hornsey, Cricklewood and Welwyn Garden City) and completing the move of one in five of our drivers (over 200) from current depots to the new ones to better match work requirements. For example, we moved our staff to a new depot in Luton this week, which has much better facilities. GTR has been training more drivers since May 2018 and now have just under 2,000 drivers in total across the whole of GTR, ready for the introduction of the additional services.

We have also ensured that our operational colleagues are well briefed and well resourced. We have brought in additional systems, processes and people at our Rail Operating Centre in Three Bridges and across stations to deal with potential incidents and to provide information for frontline staff to answer passenger queries.

We are now doing some final work to test the winter timetable plans. As soon as we have concluded this work, we will update you so you have the latest information.

We are continuing our work to plan for the 10th, with cross checking and validation exercises underway, as per the current industry planning process. Industry planning processes mean we have to publish timetables four weeks in advance of introduction. As you know, our initial wave of customer information has been rolled out to provide passengers with as much notice as possible, as such PDFs of the winter timetable are available online and Journey Planners have been updated with the 3600 trains.

Now that we have some more information we have made a few tweaks to some off peak services for the first four weeks. These will be flagged in Journey Planners so that they are still accurate.

Should there be any further changes to our current plans, we would of course make sure you are advised immediately. We continue to recommend that passengers check before they travel, and encourage them to use the National Rail app for live departure updates and timetable information.


Editor. Ron Taylor with Bim in Harpenden Library on Nov 2.