Local News                         2024/23



Local help to tackle money worries

Mounting personal debt is an increasing problem as many of us struggle to pay bills because of the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on our finances.  There are high levels of debt on credit cards, and personal loans and not everyone can manage the repayments at the moment.

Help is at hand from Harpenden Money Advice Centre which is a charity providing confidential, non-judgemental and impartial debt and budgeting advice. This free local service from trained advisers, all volunteers, will look at how best to tackle your debts.

Manager of the charity Richard Payne said "Our team are here to help people look at their money problems and work with them to come up with an affordable plan, prioritising the most urgent payments and looking at what they can afford to repay.  Anyone can get into debt, and often it’s no fault of their own doing.  It could be a job loss, relationship breakdown, bereavement or other change in circumstances and it can be very hard to admit there is a problem.  But that is the first step to sorting it out.  We are still open during these strange times and can give help via Zoom or on the phone.  Do get in contact.  We are very friendly and just want to help."

One client told their story:

"Two years ago I felt I was drowning. I was making payments every month but then had no money for the remainder of the month and was then getting further loans to get through each month, increasing my debts and finding myself in a vicious cycle I couldn't get out of. I also needed to find somewhere else to live, as the tenancy on the place I was living in was running out. With your help and support not only did you arrange an affordable monthly plan with my creditors, but you also found me a new place to live.

I was at a point two years ago where I felt almost suicidal but thanks to you, I now see a light at the end of the tunnel and emotionally and mentally I have emerged from that black hole I was in. Thank you, without your help, I dread to think where I would now be."

To find out more contact Richard Payne on www.hmac.uk or call 07954 276281 email info@hmac.uk

Harpenden Money Advice Centre is a local charity supported by churches across Harpenden. All advisers are volunteers who freely give their time and are trained to the CMA Level 3 Award in Generalist Debt Advice, which has been "Money Advice Service" accredited at Advice Level.

Photo above of the HMAC team (Richard Payne is in the centre with the purple jumper)

Improvements planned at Harpenden’s Station, Harding Parade and Station Road.

Herts County Council in conjunction with Rail Industry partners are planning significant improvements to this area. A full consultation will be issued for feed back on the proposals.

What improvement works are proposed?

The main interventions proposed are:

• A redesigned station forecourt providing a

new pedestrianised square with trees and

space for resting

• A new bike hub with increased number of

cycle storage spaces

• Relocated taxi rank with dedicated pick-up/

drop-off area with sheltered waiting space.

• Redesigned public realm at Harding Parade

Figure 1 Introduction

with flush planters, mature trees, benches and bike


• Relocated bus stops on Station Road, closer to the

railway station

• Two redesigned junctions on raised table, first

between Station Approach and Station road with four

pedestrian crossings, the second between Station Road and Arden Grove.

The Harpenden Society, a long term opponent to this development said:

The September 29 exhibition about Legal & General’s plans for 550 homes in North West Harpenden had 2 key objectives. Firstly to announce their proposals and secondly to listen to issues and  concerns raised by the local community.

Well they certainly didn’t pay any attention to the Harpenden Society’s detailed analysis of the issues.

So the announcement on March 2nd that an outline planning application has been submitted to St Albans City and District Council shows a total lack of understanding of the whole community’s feelings about this subject and ignores the points the Society have raised. These have not changed and are listed below in order of importance.

Excess traffic would be generated on an already crowded A1081, especially at peak times

The alternative options of travelling into town via bus, walking & cycling would be impractical

There would be a loss of valuable green belt land

There was a lack of infrastructure development to support this growing population.

Jeff Phillips. Chair, The Harpenden Society

June 1.  2023 Town Council gives a resounding NO to the L&G 550 homes in North West Harpenden

May 30th. 2023/ Harpenden Town Council EXTRAORDINARY MEETING to review


Within the Harpenden Neighbourhood Plan the North-West Infrastructure Zone states that significant development proposals in the North-West must:

Demonstrate how impact of new development on the A1081 and local roads will be mitigated.

Demonstrate provision for appropriate education facilities in close proximity to new development to meet the need for school places arising from the proposed development.

Demonstrate sufficient convenience shopping within a close proximity to new development.

Demonstrate sufficient open space, including recreational space in line with local community needs, within a close proximity to new development.
Having reviewed the applicant’s evidence it appears that these requirements have not been met in full.

A1081 and local roads - The development is likely to have an additional significant negative impact on the local road network. The A1081 adjacent to the development is already heavily congested and the neighbouring residential streets are tight and already subject to much ‘rat running’. The constraints in that area make it very difficult for any effective mitigating measures to be put in place therefore there is little surprise that the applicant appears to have not been able to demonstrate realistic mitigations.

Education facilities - The previous draft Local Plan required the site to provide a primary school. A primary school is no longer proposed by the applicant as the modelling suggests that it is not needed. However, having reviewed contributions to the consultation from Hertfordshire County Council it appears that they suggest that a primary school provision may still be needed.

Convenience shopping - The proposal appears to rely upon the existing parade of shops along the A1081. It is not clear if this is sufficient to support the needs of the new development.

Open Space - There is a sufficient level of recreation and open space included within the proposals. The proposals could be strengthened by replacing one of the grass sports pitches to an all-weather facility. There remains additional demand for this type of facility in the area.

Proposals Affecting the A1081, B653 and B652

The Application does set out highways improvements measures however; these are based upon the inaccuracies of the transport assessment mentioned above. Therefore, it appears that the measures will not ease traffic congestion on the A1081, nor will they minimise the disruption to traffic flow both of which are key requirements of this Policy.

Travel Plans

This focuses on the requirement for applicants to maximise the use of sustainable travel modes. The proposal sets out a number of suggestions relating to sustainable travel modes and we would make the following observations:

The proposed cycle path infrastructure measures appear entirely inappropriate and ineffective.

The on-road cycle route is unsafe and does nothing to address the most challenging aspect of the route which is when it reaches the Nickey Line bridge. The ‘quietway’ route encompasses narrow country lanes and residential streets with significant on-street parking. The applicant refers to the need for additional surveys to be undertaken and so it appears that the feasibility and deliverability of these proposals is unclear.


OCT. New affordable homes for priciest postcode outside London 

Housing association Peabody, Harpenden Town Council and Homes England are celebrating the completion of 24 new affordable homes at Roan Place in Harpenden. 


Photos above, Credit Tidywork Studio

The milestone was celebrated with an event, attended by Harpenden’s mayor, Cllr Fiona Gaskell. 


Homes England supported Peabody to help build a mix of affordable homes for local people in one of the most expensive places to live outside London. These include twelve social rent, two affordable rent, and ten shared ownership homes.  


Nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac, mature woodland surrounds Roan Place, and all homes have access to a garden or balcony.  


The homes include one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom houses for shared ownership, helping local people get on the housing ladder, and two- and three-bedroom houses for those on the housing register - helping local families stay in the area.  


To reflect the area’s history and heritage, the development has been named Roan Place after the town’s link with horse racing.  


The road name Rolt Close was chosen in partnership with the town council and local history society to commemorate a fallen WWI soldier who lived in the town. The development’s branding also incorporates a weaved design representing Harpenden’s straw-weaving industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 


Located one mile away from Harpenden’s town centre, residents can travel by train to London in a little over thirty minutes, or vibrant St Albans in five minutes. Travelling further afield, Luton airport is just a 15-minute drive away.  


Elena Brodetsky, Delivery Director at Peabody, said: “With demand for affordable homes growing 10 times faster in rural areas than in towns and cities, these high-quality homes are great news for local people wanting to get on the housing ladder or off the housing register.  


“Roan Place offers people a peaceful, suburban neighbourhood with fantastic transport links to London and beyond, in what is one of the most sought-after areas outside London. We welcome new residents as they settle in and remain

committed to providing more much-needed homes.” 


Cllr Fiona Gaskell, Mayor of Harpenden, said:

“The new development offers homes in Harpenden to people who otherwise may not have the opportunity to live here. The Town Council has delivered the development within an attractive landscaped environment, situated between the Westfield Recreation Ground and

neighbouring allotment site. All homes have access to outdoor space with a garden or balcony and the wider area improvements makes this an attractive, yet affordable option for many local people.” 


Jacqui Taylor, Lead Councillor for Housing for St Albans City and District Council, said: “Providing more social and affordable housing is one of our priorities as a Council, so we are delighted to see Peabody providing high-quality

homes in Harpenden.  

“There are twelve social rent homes included in this development and these will go to families on our housing register who have been waiting for a permanent home of their own. They will be able to put roots down in an outstanding

location where house prices are unaffordable for most people.” 


A spokesperson for Homes England, said: “Despite the current challenges affecting the country, accelerating housebuilding remains our number one priority. We are committed to supporting Peabody, who have ambitions to build new homes, and our investment through affordable housing grant allows us to do that. We’re delighted that this funding has enabled Peabody to deliver much needed new homes in Harpenden.” 

Below. Photos at the rear of the development by Harpendia


NOV. Compassionate Café launches in Harpenden.

in partnership with Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care

The Harpenden Trust and Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care are delighted to announce the launch of a new Compassionate Café, at the Harpenden Trust’s Well Bean Café, Harpenden Trust Halls (above the Co-op), 130 Southdown Road, Harpenden, AL5 1PU.

The Compassionate Cafés will take place on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, starting on Tuesday 7 November 2023, from 2.00pm to 3.30pm.

The Compassionate Café, which will be open to people from the AL5 area, will provide a space for local people who have been affected by bereavement or any kind of loss to meet others by coming together for a cuppa and a chat. Each session will be run by volunteers who are on hand to welcome and speak to attendees. Each session will be informal in structure, guided by the needs of the people attending.

Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care have been running a number of successful Compassionate Cafés in Watford, Three Rivers and Hertsmere areas since December 2021 and are delighted to be bringing the model to Harpenden area. The hospice charity is working in partnership with Harpenden Trust and their volunteers have been trained up by the hospice to help provide a welcoming space.

Sara, one of the volunteers at the Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care Compassionate Café says:

“The cafes are a friendly and safe environment for people to meet others and have a chat. They are a great way of making friends or being signposted to local events of interest. I find that the sessions give people an opportunity to talk about their loss or bereavement and how they are coping. People really benefit from the peer support of sharing with others who are going through something similar. Compassionate Cafés are open to everybody – you don’t need to be referred to them or book a space in advance - you can just come when you want, stay for as long as you need and go when you want.”

Sarah Holmes, the Head of Wellbeing at Harpenden Trust, is excited about the launching the Compassionate Café and said:

“The Harpenden Trust is delighted to partner with Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care to open our Well Bean Café as a Compassionate Café twice per month. Anyone experiencing loss, bereavement or affected by life limiting illness themselves is welcome to chat over a cup of tea and cake. Our trained volunteers aren’t there to give official advice, but offer support, company and a friendly ear. The Trust works with Harpenden Health Primary Care Network and Mind in Mid Herts on a range of initiatives across Harpenden supporting the wellbeing of AL5 residents of all ages. Partnering with charities working in specific health sectors works well for the Harpenden Trust. It ensures our volunteers are equipped with the right skills and reassures anyone attending a partnership activity that it is a safe and understanding place for them to come”.

Alison May, Community Engagement Manager at Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care, says:

“It has been wonderful to see the impact our Compassionate Cafés have had on both volunteers and attendees in our existing locations, so we’re really looking forward to bringing this to Harpenden. The cafés are very informal in structure – they're not a support group or counselling session – but people who come along tell us that they get a huge amount out of the peer support, and the chance to meet other people who understand their loss. I’d encourage anybody in the area who has experienced any type of bereavement or loss to come along to the sessions and see what they can take away from them


The elm makes a comeback!

With almost all large specimens of elm having been lost to Dutch Elm Disease, a new specimen, highly resistant to the disease, has been planted on Harpenden Common.

The gift of Rotary in Harpenden, the new tree stands close to the footpath linking Rothamsted Park with the southern end of the High Street.

The Lobel elm (ulmus Lobel), growing 1-2 feet a year, is expected to reach an ultimate height of 72 feet. Across its lifespan, it will absorb up to 7,000 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere, placing it in the top category of carbon efficiency. It also provides a habitat for species reliant on elms.

Rotary in Harpenden President Hugh Lawrence, pictured with the tree, said:

“Rotary in Harpenden is already known for staging the annual Classics on the Common and Harpenden Quiz of Quizzes, as well as running several activities for the benefit of young people.

“The donation of the elm tree is an example of our intention to improve the living environment in Harpenden and, wherever we can, in surrounding villages.”