Sandridge’s Heartwood forest access road raises safety concerns

WORK has begun on the new access road and car park for Heartwood Forest – but its location has raised safety concerns.

The access which is outside Sandridge on the B651 to Wheathampstead is on a bend which has prompted some local residents to voice their fears about how dangerous it could be.

Retired St Albans businessman John Stocker, who lives in Wheathampstead, said he was “aghast at the health and safety implications” of the access.

He went on: “As you exit Sandridge, increasing to the 40mph limit, there is a blind bend with the car park exit/entrance slip road literally feet away from the blind bend exit. Coming out of the car park there is no view at all of traffic to your right and minimal visibility to the left.”

Mr Stocker said he had not been involved with the Heartwood Car Park Action Group, set up last year because of concerns that there had not been sufficient consultation with residents about the siting of the car park to serve the new 850-acre forest being maintained and planted by the Woodland Trust.

But he said he would hold Sandridge parish councillors and Herts Highways officers responsible when the first accident happened there as he was sure it would.

The action group wanted to see the car park sited either on the triangle of land between the B651 and Coleman Green Lane or adjacent to the approved access on the western side of the B651 because they were concerned about the impact on the village.

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But after the Woodland Trust looked into their concerns and suggestions, the action group accepted that it had done as much as it could on the issue while vowing to monitor it.

Louise Neicho, site manager of the broadleaf forest, said this week that Herts Highways had been instrumental in influencing the position of the car park.

She went on: “During the Environmental Impact Assessment process, a detailed transport survey and safety audit was carried out by specialist consultants with the planned location being deemed the most suitable.

“Extensive landscaping and hedge removal will be carried out during construction to ensure exiting the car park on to the main road will be safe.”

n Disney recording artist Shannon Saunders lent her support to a new generation of green champions at Heartwood Forest last week.

Over 250 people took part in green activities at the forest as part of Disney’s Friends for Change campaign – a multi-platform environmental initiative that encourages children to help the planet.

Disney has joined forces with the Woodland Trust to turn 50 acres of the forest into a magical wood.

Shannon, who was last year’s winner of My Camp Rock 2, commented: “Like lots of young people my age, I care about the environment because it is really important for future generations. I’m thrilled to be part of Disney’s Friends for Change initiative to help encourage kids to get involved with local projects and help make a difference in their communities, in ways both big and small.”