Start objecting

PUBLISHED: 10:28 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

SIR, — We ve said this once, and now we re saying it again: Do you want to have some real influence on what St Albans city centre looks like? Would you like to have a crucial impact on the entire City Vision project? Then forget about the questionnaires,

SIR, - We've said this once, and now we're saying it again: Do you want to have some real influence on what St Albans city centre looks like? Would you like to have a crucial impact on the entire City Vision project? Then forget about the questionnaires, the workshops and the exhibitions, and get thee down to your computer or writing pad and object most strenuously to the planning application now on show for the development of the Hertfordshire House Victoria Street/Bricket Road site.

A few years back, consultants advised the district council of the need for a planning brief for the whole of the sensitive city-centre area to prevent piecemeal and inappropriate development. It never happened. And so any Tom, Dick or Antringham has been free to drop in any sort of application, and the council is legally bound to consider it.

Birmingham-based developer Tim Blairs, of Antringham, has said of St Albans: "This is a city we care about." He could have fooled us.

What's on offer will wreck any hopes we may have of achieving an imaginative and cohesive scheme for this part of our city. Not only has the site been crammed full of commercial floorspace with never a thought for public priority, but the run-of-the-mill, could-be-anywhere architecture will set a precedent for hefty and humdrum design everywhere else.

If it matters to you that your view down Victoria Street from the Town Hall will be dominated by a five-plus storey block dwarfing the Quaker burial ground and nearby two-storey listed buildings, please write.

If you care that space, light and mature trees, including a magnificent copper beech, will be lost, please write.

If you'd rather walk down an open city street than a canyon created by a bulky structure stretching right to the site's edge, please write.

View the application 5/08/2605 and 5/08/2619 on the council website at www.stalbans.gov.uk or at the council offices. Send objections to the Interim Head of Planning, Civic Centre, St Peter's Street, St Albans AL1 3JE, or e-mail planning@stalbans.gov.uk giving full name and address, quoting reference numbers and using the planning points mentioned above. Write now.

And what of the council? It's already shot itself once in the foot over the city-centre site - two mediocre cinema schemes withdrawn because of public outcry, and an ill-starred contract now limping towards its end. Surely it won't do it again by approving this travesty of an application? Is this really what our officers and elected councillors have in mind? It would leave their commitment to the City Vision in tatters - and who could not but question the competence of an official body that got itself into this kind of predicament?

MARION HAMMANT,

Secretary, St Albans Civic Society

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