Failure to act

PUBLISHED: 10:30 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

SIR — The Tesco-owned houses in London Road have been a disgrace to St Albans for years. There has been a token tidying up but they are still unoccupied and decaying. Several years ago the district council started talking about restoring the houses under

SIR - The Tesco-owned houses in London Road have been a disgrace to St Albans for years. There has been a token tidying up but they are still unoccupied and decaying. Several years ago the district council started talking about restoring the houses under its powers in the 2004 Housing Act but they have done nothing, as the following extracts from the local press illustrates:

n September 16, 2005: The council says it is looking to use an amendment to the Housing Act which comes into force this autumn allowing it to manage (the London Road houses) with a view to providing accommodation for tenants on the housing register.

n January 5, 2006: A council spokesman said: "There are two areas we are exploring. Under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act we can make efforts to tidy up the appearance of the area..... Councillor Robert Donald has also written to Verulam Properties, a subsidiary of Tesco which owns the properties, to request that action is taken to improve their appearance."

n June 19, 2006: Council leader Robert Donald has pledged to take action over the empty homes and shops in London Road if the stymied supermarket scheme does not progress this year.

n October 15, 2007: .... district council planning chief Chris Brazier .... is asking council officers to use the 2004 Housing Act to take over the properties temporarily.

n February 19, 2008: (Tesco) says it will renovate six of the homes it owns in May or June, and all should be occupied by tenants by the end of this year.

n August 27, 2008: Daniel Goodwin, the council's chief executive, says: "The council wishes to see the houses in London Road let as soon as possible." And that they will consider using an Empty Dwelling Management Order "should insufficient steps have been taken".

Well, now it's now five months later and there's no sign that any "steps have been taken". Since Tesco lost their planning application last summer, does anyone seriously believe they intend to do anything without being forced to? Even their inhabited houses in Alma Road remain sadly neglected.

The council seems content to have meeting after meeting with Tesco while Tesco does nothing.

When will we have some real action from Robert Donald and Daniel Goodwin instead of just promises and see the houses occupied again?

PETER MILNE,

Alma Road, St Albans.

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