Vital work

PUBLISHED: 11:06 27 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010

SIR, — Peter Trevelyan, chairman of St Albans Civic Society, and Emeritus Professor Michael Cooper, president of the St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society, wrote (Herts Advertiser, November 13 and 20) expressing concern at t

SIR, - Peter Trevelyan, chairman of St Albans Civic Society, and Emeritus Professor Michael Cooper, president of the St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society, wrote (Herts Advertiser, November 13 and 20) expressing concern at the district council cutting the staff of the conservation and design team, and quite rightly so.

The St Albans district contains a number of Conservation Areas and Article 4 Direction Areas and several hundred listed buildings. The council has a responsibility to ensure that the law relating to these is upheld.

The planning officers do a great deal in this respect but there are always instances that require sensitive and informed architectural judgement and often a knowledge of architectural history. What on earth is the point of listing buildings if local authorities, in whose area these buildings stand, do not ensure that they employ staff who have the necessary expertise to advise them on the care of the buildings.

Aside from the care of historic buildings there is also the important matters of obtaining good architectural advice regarding proposed new buildings in sensitive locations. Most of your readers will recall Henry Davidson's proposed design for a massive eight and 12-storey block of flats in Bricket Road.

In such an instance a strong design team is a must to counter the enthusiasm of those who really should know better. Fortunately the planning officers' uncompromising advice to reject won the day.

I hope the council will understand that good design is an intrinsic part of our own built environment and not just an added-on bit after everything has been decided - and thus to ensure we have a good conservation and design team.

DENNIS OWEN,

Fishpool Street, St Albans.

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