Historic green’s centrepiece saved from demolition

PUBLISHED: 15:04 04 July 2012

Stephen McPartland and Heather Harris at the well

Stephen McPartland and Heather Harris at the well

Archant

The historic centrepiece of a village green due to be torn down by a council has been saved from demolition by residents.

The wood and tiled canopy over the ancient well on Shephall Green in Stevenage will be saved for future generations thanks to opposition from neighbours.

The early 20th century structure which covers a medieval well and falls within a designated area of special architectural and historic interest was to be knocked down by the borough council and not replaced. The authority wrote to local residents at the end of May telling them the canopy would be demolished within two weeks because it could not afford its repair.

The letter sparked an angry response from residents on the green who said the decision amounted to historic vandalism and dictatorialism and demanded the council take their views into consideration.

The reaction prompted a public consultation – resulting in a u-turn by the authority.

Shephall Green resident Heather Harris said appalled residents acted quickly to organise opposition.

“We acted immediately to stop this with information sent to interested parties. This should not have been necessary. Stevenage Borough Council should not have the power to dictate to us.

“The well is the focal point of the green. Without it the green would lose its ancient aura and all views and vistas would just be of a stretch of grass. Shephall Green would be absorbed into modern Stevenage obliterating its history.”

Mrs Harris thanked Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland for his support in saving the structure.

The Conservative politician said the canopy is a key feature of the area. “Many local people enjoy the open space and trees of Shephall Green, with the well and its plaque and canopy adding to the character of the area. I am always ready to take action and am pleased we have forced a commitment from Stevenage Borough Council that it will now retain the well canopy and undertake the necessary repairs as soon as possible. Shephall Green is a conservation area and part of the history of Stevenage and there is a strong local feeling that the character and appearance should be protected so that future generations may also enjoy the green.”

Repair work, estimated to cost around £3,500, is due to begin on the canopy next week. The structure has also been listed by Herts County Council on its Historic Environment Record.

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