Welcome to the Harpenden Society

Actively involved in Harpenden's future

The Society's Annual Report is now available. To download the report please click here.

Public Meeting on 16th May 2024 at Katherine Warington School 7.30pm start, doors open from 7.15pm - To book a ticket (free) click here.

Public Meeting 16th May at 7.30pm doors open at 7.15pm Katherine Warington School


To book a place click here.


Will Climate Change affect the future of your food?

The Harpenden Society are more than aware of the issues affecting everyday life in Harpenden. And what could be more than important than feeding your family with nourishing food from reliable sources.

With seasonal weather changes across the globe and changes to farming practices the agricultural food chain is under pressure to keep delivering the produce we all need. Its a complex area requiring explanations.

We have engaged James Clarke from Rothamsted Research and Katharine Tate, Harpendens Food Teacher to explain what the future has in store. Firstly from James Clarke:

Can we farm sustainably?

Global food production will need to double by 2050 if everyone on the planet is to have an adequate diet. In principle, we have the technical ability to deliver this vast amount of food. The catch, however, is that if we are to safeguard Earth, we need to radically change the way the that we farm. Farming depends on natural processes, so ignoring them is not an option. To use less land and fewer resources, we will need to growers to be more precise, less dependent on chemicals and more in tune with nature if we want to ensure bountiful harvests for years to come.

Rothamsted Research in Harpenden is at the forefront of the scientific revolution that will change farming forever. In his wide-ranging and timely talk, James Clarke, head of Communications at Rothamsted, will outline the critical issues facing our farmers and look at how the fundamental research undertaken by the institutes scientists can help deliver a more sustainable food future. 


And now Katharine Tate.

How Healthy Eating will keep you Fit and Well

Low energy levels, sluggish digestion and interrupted sleep are common symptoms that can have a huge impact on our mood, cognition, overall health, fitness and wellbeing. The Food Teacher™, Katharine Tate, an Harpenden based award winning Registered Nutritional Therapist, will help us to understand key foods and lifestyle factors, which can increase or deplete energy and support improved sleep. She will discuss foods and nutrients that are beneficial to focus on or avoid. By reflecting on our individual needs we can implement some changes, which may improve our overall fitness and wellbeing.


As a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Katharine applies nutrition and lifestyle medicine sciences to promote health, peak performance and individual care. She runs a private clinic and is currently the only recognised British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine practitioner in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire to have successfully completed post graduate training to support clients with cancer.


The meeting will take place at Katherine Warington School, on the Lower Luton Rd. It will be preceded by a brief Society AGM. There is plenty of Free parking.

The official event opening with High Sheriff Annie Brewster, Town Mayor Fiona Gaskell and Society Chair Roger Butterworth

We were all part of Harpenden's Local History Day on 20 April

Over 1,200 were at the Local History Day at the Eric Morecambe Centre; the contributors, exhibitors, marshals, etc. were joined by over 1,100 members of the public, making the event a great day for Harpenden and district.  The venue was rocking! 

Annie Brewster at the close of the Day, for which this was her first public event as High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, said “When you asked me last summer about the idea for this event, I would not have believed what a success it could be, thanks to the legion of volunteers. We have learned so much about our past. We have also witnessed our future with the young children on stage.  Hopefully, this is the first of many such spectacles the History Society will create for us.”

Cllr Fiona Gaskell, Mayor of Harpenden, says, "The Day was a memorable event. There was a real buzz throughout, with enthusiastic residents enjoying the museum, talks and exhibitions. Many people appeared to stay throughout the day as there was so much to see and do.  Warmest congratulations to the team who worked so hard on the event, and I look forward to seeing and hearing a lot more of the History Society in future."

I heartily thank the High Sheriff, the Mayor and all contributors, including those from other organisations, and the children who entered our competition, plus all marshals and other volunteers, together with the staff of EMC, who shared in the excitement, all of whom made a vital contribution to the overwhelming success of the day.  Not only was the total number, 1,200, pleasingly surprising, but the vitality of those attending throughout the four hours was tremendous.  And thank you to all those who came; your interest and excitement was itself a tremendous for the team.

Owing to limited space the High Sheriff cut the ribbon at the Museum doorway at a private gathering some time prior to the public being in the building.

Laura Bull, our 500th visitor on the day, was awarded free membership and was photographed with the Mayor and our Chairman.  The Herbert family including our 100th visitor, also receiving free membership, and were photographed with our chairman, Dr Alexander Thomas, one of the speakers, and Kate Barton, EMC manager.

Numerous people visited the new Museum for the first time. From 27 April the museum will open 11am-3pm every Saturday and as many Tuesdays and Thursdays for which we have volunteers.

Our Newsletter


Harpenden Society members regularly tell my colleagues and me how much they look forward to the quarterly arrival of our newsletter. Many say it has become their primary source of news of whats happening in our town.

Over the last eight years or so, under Alan Buntings editorship, it has broadened its coverage to include not only hard (often exclusive) news but also in-depth features about local enterprises their history as well as their vital place in Harpendens commercial life. As a result of Alans stewardship, the size of the newsletter has increased accordingly, from six to eight and then to twelve pages.

However, Alan acknowledges his advancing age and in consequence, his wish to ease the workload involved where, it should be added, the main challenge is not the writing but gathering the source material that is identifying and researching potential stories.

What we have agreed is that we need find someone to provide what might be termed editorial support for Alan. This could be someone, possibly with a journalistic background or with journalistic aspirations, who would like to help maintain the newsletters role as the flagship of the Harpenden Society.

Interested, but want to know more about the job description? If so please contact Alan on editor@harpendensociety.org  or myself on chairman@harpendensociety.org

Jeff Phillips

Chairman, Harpenden Society

Cllr Paul de Kort (right) and Jeff Phillips, Chairman Harpenden Society (left).

31st January Public Meeting


'Time running out for finalising Local Plan', says councillor

Without the submission, in an acceptable form of a local plan for St Albans City and District before the middle of next year, protection of key areas of the Green Belt against housing development might well be lost. The warning came from District and County Councillor Paul de Kort, addressing a public  meeting last week hosted by the Harpenden Society at the towns Katherine Warington School.

Cllr de Kort pointed out that although a recent statement by Secretary of State Michael Gove had indicated a move away from mandatory to advisory house building targets, it was clear that the requirement for SADC to sanction the building of just over 15,000 new homes between now and 2041, would not necessarily be eased. And, in answer to a question from the audience, he acknowledged that the outcome of the General Election later this year added a further element of uncertainty.

Although the council was keen to make maximum use of so-called brownfield sites in the District, surveys had shown that they could accommodate only around 900 dwellings.  It meant that land had therefore to be made available elsewhere for building about 11,000 more homes, which implied sacrificing Green Belt.  

In an ARUP group survey commissioned last year by SADC, the practicality and extent of some Green Belt development applications was questioned. Cllr de Kort cited the L&G groups wish to build around 550 homes on Green Belt land north of Bloomfield Road, Harpenden. It contrasted starkly with the figure of just 293 homes calculated by ARUP and influenced especially by the distance of the site from the town centre and consequent transport implications.

Paul de Kort commented: Putting together a local plan is a complex activity for any local authority. The particular circumstances of St Albans District multiply the challenge. I hope my presentation and responses to the audience's questions provided more clarity on the local context, the progress made to date and what remaining uncertainties there are to be resolved. Very recent ministerial statements appear to allow for greater consideration of specific local pressures and I welcomed that during the evening. It is something that we have been demanding for a long time."

A record breaking attendance of over 140 including many non members of the Harpenden Society were present filling the school hall for almost two hours.

The full slide presentation can be downloaded by clicking here.


Click here to see a statement from SADC about the recent Government "designation" letter.

SADC have announced We are carrying out a review of on-street car parking across the District".

The Harpenden Society has reviewed the situation and issued the following comment:

The loss of free parking in the centre of Harpenden with the potential damage to local business and further congested side roads needs to be carefully examined.

The Harpenden Society have been aware of the overall transport issues in Harpenden for some considerable time and commissioned the University of Hertfordshire last summer to produce a report that looked at all the road transport issues that the town faces, including parking. Published in the Autumn it was seen as a guide for the creation of a Transport Forum partnering with HTC and town politicians to investigate further and take actions.

Society Chair Jeff Phillips said, We need to understand the statement from SADC more fully, consider the consequences and make recommendations. These can then be submitted for inclusion in the public consultation which will give all residents the chance to air their views.

The full SADC statement is below.


From SADCs  Chris Traill, Strategic Director for Community and Place Delivery for St Albans City and District Council.

One issue we are looking at is whether it is sustainable to continue to allow free parking in bays given the high level of demand and the resulting pressure on spaces.

Government advice is that on-street parking charges

should be set higher than car parks to encourage the use of car parks to reduce congestion and emissions as well as improve safety.

Charges may deter motorists from taking up spaces for long periods, help cover the costs of our parking services and encourage active travel such as walking and cycling.

We are also looking at the provision of disabled parking in our main high streets and whether there needs to be improvement, focusing not simply on the number of bays but on having the right number in the right location.

When we have drawn up our proposals, there will be a public consultation when residents, businesses, community groups and other organisations can give their views.

All feedback will be considered before the proposals are finalised and any decisions are made.


Finally, we will also be looking at requests for residents in various parts of the District for Controlled Parking Zones to be introduced.

These follow concerns that it has become difficult for residents and their visitors to park in some streets and that restrictions are needed.

There is a process that is carried out before a Controlled Parking Zone is introduced including intensive public consultations.

These are community-led initiatives and will only happen if there is a consensus about the need for change among residents and other stakeholders. 

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