Panshanger Park is open, as is the Thieves Lane car park. If you visit please make sure you do it safely and adhere to Government advice and physical distancing regulations.
March 2021: The north western path is now open in the park. This now makes a full circular walk possible, and is especially useful for those entering the park from Panshanger Lane.
Site owners Tarmac, have released the following statement about the new path:
“Panshanger Park is pleased to announce the opening of the Western approach path. The new path is a permissive bridleway which can be enjoyed on foot, horse or bike, and links the western side of the park to the Panshanger Great Oak and the remains of Panshanger house. The route passes through what used to be the old sand and gravel processing plant before the restoration works were completed. The land has been restored with replaced soils and then seeded with grasses and wildflowers…Following completion of mineral extraction, all areas through the central valley of Panshanger Park have now been restored and have been opened up to the public as a country park and nature reserve. There are now 24km of paths for people to enjoy.”
The Friends group welcomes this development, it is positive to see this long-awaited path now open.
February 2021:Update on the Friends group activities during the pandemic period
It’s been some time since we last posted an update here on our website. The last year has been an extraordinary one for all of us, life has thrown up challenges for many of us, most of us had probably expected life to have returned to something like normal before now.
However, we are where we are of course. The value of Panshanger Park has become ever more evident over the last year. It being a wonderful place to “get out into the green”. There has been a lot of media coverage promoting the mental health benefits of getting out into the Countryside during the pandemic. The WWF and Mental Health Foundation have produced an interesting guide about it, with an introduction by Julia Bradbury, you can find it by clicking here.
We have clearly seen an increase of visitors to the park, with the Thieves Lane car park overflowing regularly at weekends, with very many cars parking along Panshanger Lane, to access the western side of the park. All of this demonstrates how popular the park has become, and how there is pressing need for more, and better, facilities and access at the park.
The Friends committee has continued to meet during the last year online using Zoom, we’ve also continued to meet with landowners Tarmac, local councilors and others involved with the Panshanger Park liaison group, again online. The meetings held by this group are the main opportunity for us to progress the realisation of the 1980 Legal Agreement to deliver a full Country Park within the historic landscape.
These meetings were suspended for several months last year by Tarmac, they could not go ahead as their staff were on Furlough. Since their return to work these meetings have gone ahead online, we continue to attend. We do so on behalf of our supporters and everyone else who is keen to see the Country Park fulfill its potential, as set out many decades ago.
A new Panshanger Park People and Wildlife Officer has recenty been appointed by Tarmac. The Friends group welcomes this development, we are currently arranging a virtual meeting with her. To hear more about her role, and tell her more about the aims and hopes of the Firends group.
In December we held our AGM, there have been a few personnel changes in the last year or so, we have reviewed the groups aims and focus. For the coming year it was agreed that we would like to work with Tarmac to progress the following:
- Access from the north of the park (from the B1000) particularly to establish disabled and less-able parking at the stables area. The Oak, Orangery and Repton view from the house grounds is a considerable walk from the current and proposed car parks.
- The restoration of the Orangery. We flagged the issue of vandalism to the Orangery as it was not protected. Tarmac were quick to respond and installed a new high fence and security cameras. However, there has been no progress on any restoration plan for the Orangery, we would like to see that change in 2021.
- We would like a new definitive map of the paths and Rights of Way produced. There are some discrepancies between previous maps, an agreed and recognised map should be produced, which will also aid park visitors.
- Tarmac are about to submit a planning application for a 140 space car park on the western edge of the park, accessed from the former haul road on Panshanger Lane. The Friend’s group has been shown the draft plans and does not object in principle, we did object to the previous application, which was subsequently withdrawn. However, we will look closely at the details of the new planning application when it appears on the HCC website.
Additionally, we will try to reach out to the wider community of people now visiting the park, it’s clear that our publicizing of both the park itself, and our groups aims, could be improved. If you have any suggestions for this; or would like to get involved in supporting our aims please do get in touch. We are particularly keen to hear from groups or individuals with mobility difficulties who visit, or would like to visit, the park.
Lastly, the last photograph available of the Orangery while still in use dates from about 1954. It is black and white, but we have used an online tool to add some colour to it. We have done the same with an old photograph of the house. We believe both of these pictures are in the public domain but if you know otherwise please let us know. They provide a reminder of times past at the park, and also suggest what a renovated Orangery could look like, if bought back into use for the benefit of park visitors.
The Orangery c.1954, about the time the estate was being broken up and put up for sale.
The Orangery in 2021, a future visitor centre, cafe…other amenity?
The former house
If you would like to find out more or get involved with the friends group please do get in touch with us.
February: Snowdrops in Panshanger Park Woods
Latest Access Map from Tarmac
Click on the map above to enlarge it. You can save a PDF version of it here: Tarmac 2019 map.
The map above includes the new paths opened in 2019. You can now walk east-west across the park, from Panshanger Lane to Thieves Lane along a level path. There is no usable route marking to guide walkers (as yet) and as there are several route options on the eastern side it can be a bit confusing at first. From the east just keep walking west, keeping the river and lake close to your left hand side, you will eventually reach Riverside Cottage and can continue from there. Do not be afraid of the long horn cattle which may be grazing, they are fairly docile creatures and won’t bother you. Do not bother them of course, dogs must be kept on a lead around cattle, as is the rule anywhere.
Our AGM – 2nd July 2019
The Friends Group held it’s AGM on the 2nd of July. It was lovely summer evening, we sat in the park looking out at the wonderful view from where the house once stood. Our committee was duly elected and after an informative update from Kate and Geoff we all enjoyed a picnic as the sun went down. We still have one or two places on our committee, we would welcome anyone with a passion for the park and it’s environs to get in touch with for a chat about how you might be able to help.
PUBLIC ACCESS UPDATE MAY 25th 2019
Finally, the Mimram Valley path opens on June 24th!
The Friends of Panshanger Park and the WGC Society have recently been campaigning very hard to get route between WGC and Hertford, across the Mimram Valley finally opened. The drive overall is to push Tarmac to fulfill their obligation to open the park in full.
Below is a photo of some of the attendees on our celebratory walk which took place the day that Mirmam Valley path opened.
In recent weeks our group had met with Tarmac management, and we have invited MP Grant Shapps along to the park, again, to see the closed off path. Grant has been very supportive of our cause, also raising the matter with Tarmac himself.
Tarmac have now given a date of June 24th 2019 for the opening of the East -West valley path.
We are very pleased and encouraged that this is now going to happen. Pleased because we have been asking for it to open for about 5 years, and encouraged as it shows that Tarmac are listening to local communities who want to access the park in full. This is a very welcome step forward along the way to the full restoration of the former gravel workings into a beautiful County Park and nature reserve that we can all enjoy.
The opening of the path will allow people from Welwyn Garden City and Hertford to easily walk through the mostly level and stunning valley alongside the Mimram. The picture below shows the path, the section in red will open on the 24th June.
The route serves as the key access route into the park from Welwyn Garden City and offers the wonderful views of the Grade II* listed landscape to the visitor.
Tarmac have issued a press release about the opening, you can read it here:
This welcome news is also being covered in our local press. The Welwyn and Hatfield Times has a story about it here:
And the Hertfordshire Mercury here:
We look forward to walkers being able to access this new route for probably the first time in living memory. We urge all park users to access this and the other permissive routes responsibly, especially with regard to dogs and litter, as the saying goes “Leave only footprints”.
IMPORTANT PUBLIC ACCESS UPDATE – JAN 1st 2018
(Click on above link to open access map as full pdf)
UPDATE JUNE 2018
Latest request from HCC to TARMAC in letter of 8 JUNE 2018 below. Tarmac have so far declined to reply to HCC or action any requests to improve public access and facilities. Another summer passes without full Country Park access and the delivery of the facilities Tarmac are legally obliged to give back. The quarrying profits have been taken away of course.
UPDATE MARCH 2018
HCC John Wood, Chief Executive letter of Nov 2017 was finally responded to on 12th February 2018.
The above letter left many questions unanswered and unclear. It is for the planning authority (HCC) to ensure that the full public benefit – enshrined in the 1980’s Legal Agreement & Planning Permissions – is delivered. A fully opened and wardened Country Park with all the facilities the owner is obliged to deliver.
IMPORTANT UPDATE DECEMBER 2017
If you would like to better understand why a Country Park at Panshanger is overdue to the people of Hertfordshire. Please read our Friends of Panshanger – Assessment document below. It is a detailed assessment of the Tarmac Country Park draft plan, delivered earlier this year to Herts County Council (HCC). A detailed plan that was first asked for in 1982. The country park should have first opened its gates 1989 (see HCC press release).
Twenty eight years later the public still waits for the full opening of the Country Park and its facilities. Also see letters sent to Tarmac by HCC over the last 4 years. We leave you to judge progress. The Friends of Panshanger Park now assume full access to the Country Park area from 1st January 2018, in line with the ending of mineral extraction on the Panshanger Estate. A new permission to import inert restoration minerals was granted to Tarmac by HCC (prior to opening of the full Country Park) or even getting a plan. Estimated value of this new permission is £4-8 million over 10 years. But still no toilets at the Country Park, one car park for a 800+ acre park, no refreshments facilities, no disabled access parking, no public fishing, poor way-marking, no plan to restore the Orangery.
We now also have the ignominy of an English Heritage Grade II* landscape, designed by Humphry Repton, being added to this years Historic England – Heritage at Risk List. Due to poor restoration and management practices adopted by the owners and on the eve of national celebrations of Repton’s 300th anniversary in 2018.
CLICK LINKS TO OPEN DOCUMENT
We are pleased to confirm SUCCESS and that following the local and national campaign to save Repton’s Broadwater at Panshanger Park.
Tarmac have announced they will not excavate the Lower Broadwater. THANK YOU to everyone who has campaigned for this and to Tarmac for reaching this final decision.
Friends of Panshanger Park Annual General Meeting to be held on Wednesday, 7th December, 2016 starting at 7pm at Brace Room, St Mary’s Church, Hertingfordbury.
A team of committed volunteers working on your behalf.
Panshanger Park needs YOUR HELP PLEASE ACT NOW!
Repton’s design for the Broadwater (below right) is in imminent danger of being destroyed and we need your support to help protect it. Please download and share this link/leaflet and do email your views and concerns. Thank you for your support.
Please note, the annotated photo below is supplied to the Friends of Panshanger Park for the sole purpose of showing the effect of further proposed extraction in the area of the Broadwater. It must not to be used for any other purposes, or by any other parties, without the specific written consent of David Neal: firstname.lastname@example.org
CLICK IMAGES TO EXPAND (see *below re photo copyright)
This aerial photograph shows the large expanses of water that have been created in the valley as gravel has been extracted over recent years.
Repton’s Broadwater at the western end of the park (bottom of photo left) has been retained more or less intact but now Tarmac proposes to destroy the lower Broadwater by breaching the narrow strip of land between it and the lagoon they have already created to the south
Is it really worth destroying part of our national heritage in order to extract a few more tons of gravel? The Friends of Panshanger Park thinks not and is campaigning hard to protect what remains of Repton’s vision. Please send your views to the Tarmac Estates Manager email@example.com cc firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU!! for your vital support
YOUR COUNTRY PARK
In order to gain extraction rights from Hertfordshire County Council in the 1980’s, the park owners, now Lafarge Tarmac, entered into a legal agreement to restore the country park to the original historically significant landscape with open public access for everyone to enjoy
Over time, some of the restorative work has been completed by the owners though not necessarily to the expected landscaping standards needed to preserve the historical integrity of the designs of Repton and Brown. In addition there remains limited access for to public and a large amount of unecessary fencing around footpaths and bridleways. This includes a 2m high x 60m long close boarded fence which takes away a stunning heritage landscape view across the valley. A view which is shown in the Friends website banner and was destroyed by the owners in Autumn 2014, the Friends continue to campaign for removal of this fence, which has never been justified by the owners in terms of why it is needed to protect wildlife areas around this area.
Today there is mounting momentum for the present owners to honour their legal commitments of restoration and public access. The Friends of Panshanger Park (The FPP) formed in 2013 to representing multiple local organisations and individual memebrs who wish to see our Country Park delivered in line with the original planning obligations.
We are a member of the Open Spaces Society, more here: