Diary: Pandemic delays Welywn Garden City centenary celebrations

This year marks a century since Ebenezer Howard founded Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire and a fitting tribute is being planned.

Welwyn Garden City (pic: diamond geezer, flickr)
Welwyn Garden City (pic: diamond geezer, flickr)

A bronze statue, depicting the legendary planner clutching a bowler hat and a spade, has been forged as part of the town’s centenary celebrations. Unfortunately, the unveiling looks likely to be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Graeme Bell, long-time Planning columnist and a board member at the Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation, believes Howard would no doubt understand. “Spanish flu ravaged Europe just ahead of the Welwyn project,” he told Diary. “The wide boulevards and careful layout of the town emphasise the value of fresh air and healthy living.” Bell remains optimistic the statue will be in place later this year. “Howard is in lockdown in the foundry at Stroud and the plinth of Welsh slate remains embedded in a quarry until normal operations resume,” he said. 

Plans to open a Harry Potter-themed escape room in York have been delayed while the local authority grapples with the suitability of such an addition to the city. Rehab Piccadilly is seeking retrospective permission for a change of use from a café to a bar and the creation of two escape rooms, where customers will work against the clock to solve a series of puzzles. Dark magic is not a concern, but the determination deadline has been extended while the local authority examines issues such as the need for air conditioning. Diary bets the construction of Hogwarts was not delayed by such muggle concerns.

Ever the peacemaker, Hollywood actor George Clooney has resolved a dispute with local planners to secure permission for a wooden outbuilding at his South Oxfordshire estate. Council officers threw plans for the proposed building up in the air when they advised that the structure posed a risk to a nearby rare tree. Clooney immediately recognised the gravity of the situation and, presumably, instructed his planning team to work from dusk till dawn to address the issue. Recommending approval, officers said the building would protect the tree in question and remain out of sight from views towards the grade II listed house. 

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