Following the recent success of Brentwood ski slope in seeing off a housing development that threatened to close the slope there, the long established Welwyn Garden City’s Gosling Ski Centre finds itself on land now earmarked for “potential development” by Welwyn Hatfield Council in the Local Plan.
At time of writing nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition to keep the volunteer-run ski slope out of the hands of developers.
“Welwyn Garden City dry ski slope is a rare and highly valuable sports facility. The ski slope is used extensively all year round by local schools, community groups, disability groups and ski race training camps coming from a wide catchment area,” said Simon Godley who started the petition.
The 140 metre long dry ski slope also has a thriving 50-plus group and over 100 community groups make use of the facilities, including local cub, scout and beaver packs.
Of course like all sports facilities it also contributes to physical and mental wellbeing in the area.
The report states that Welwyn Hatfield Council is tasked by the government to identify sites for house building as part of the Local Plan, and that their assessment that the slope could be closed and 250 houses built on the site without any resulting reinvestment in leisure facilities, is part of that process. It is unclear whether there is an active plan to go forward with this redevelopment
The council’s assessment in their report is that the positives of redeveloping the site significantly outweigh the negatives, listing the fact that it wouldn’t be a green belt development, and that the ski slope is close to employment areas, schools and public transport.
Although dry slopes are being lost across the UK, the news is not always bad. Some councils that value public health and fitness are aiming to support and sometimes invest in new facilities such as in Sheffield and Inverness and other slopes are seeing investment and upgrades.
Dry slopes, which have existed in Britain for more than 50 years, are also a British export success story with several companies located in England and Wales exporting worldwide.
You can sign the petition at: www.change.org/p/protect-welwyn-ski-slope-from-local-council-s-plans-for-land-redevelopment