Conservators pen open letter to the Crow as Therfield Heath land-swap saga continues in Royston

The land the conservators wish to swap with another patch near Therfield.

The land the conservators wish to swap with another patch near Therfield. - Credit: Archant

The Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens has submitted an open letter to the Crow after the news that their proposal to swap heathland continues to evoke strong reaction from Royston people.

Therfield Heath. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Therfield Heath. Picture: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Last month, we broke the news that if the Conservators proposals went ahead, they would swap the patch of land near to Sun Hill and Briary Lane with a patch of the same size to the west of New Road near Therfield. The Briary Lane land would be sold off for housing which Conservators say will bring £1 million reinvestment for sports facilities to the heath.

The news was met with a mixed response, which prompted clerk to the Conservators David Smith to send this letter to the Crow this week:

‘The Therfield Regulation and the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens receive no income from North Hertfordshire District Council, Hertfordshire County Council or Royston Town Council.

They have the rental income from Royston Golf Club, Heath Sports Club and John Jenkins Racing. In 2016, the total rental income was £73,500.

We have income from Natural England of £1,334 towards the maintenance of the area of the Heath above the Rifle Range.

However, we also maintain key areas of the Heath like Church and Penn Hills to ensure the special nature of Therfield Heath is maintained – work vital for the Chalk Hill blue butterfly and pasque flowers which Therfield Heath is nationally famous for. The total spent on grass cutting and scrub removal in 2016 was £32,989.

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Litter collection and the servicing of the dog facies bins costs in 2016 were £1,334.

The two car parks on the Heath are free, this is unusual today. Theyneed maintenance and given the increasing use of the heath they need to be redesigned to provide more parking spaces.

In 2016 the regulation had an unaudited deficit of £1,500. In 2015 it had a deficit of £10,269. In 2014 it had a deficit of £6,183.

All the profit from the sale of the deregistered land will be invested in the heath. An all-weather pitch will cost in the region of £600,000 but the income it will provide for extra warden’s duties on the heath and to ensure the correct maintenance of the Heath can continue. With more people using the Heath every year, wardens are required to educate the public about its special areas and features and to ensure that bylaws are followed so that the majority of people are free to enjoy the heath peacefully.

Longer term there is a need on the Heath for more changing rooms and importantly for public toilets. The only toilets now are privately owned within the Heath Cafe Bar.

The only aim of the Conservators, who are elected locally and serve with no expenses and no salary, is to maximise the pleasure the maximum number of people can get from the unique environment which is Therfield Heath.’

• See the next edition of the Crow for another ‘heath postbag special’ and to submit your views on anything going on in Royston and the surrounding villages email