Residents object to St Albans disabled flats

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

ROAD safety and parking problems are the main reasons why residents have objected to a scheme to build flats for disabled people on the site of a former library. Ability Housing Association has applied for permission to demolish Fleetville Library in Hatf

ROAD safety and parking problems are the main reasons why residents have objected to a scheme to build flats for disabled people on the site of a former library.

Ability Housing Association has applied for permission to demolish Fleetville Library in Hatfield Road, St Albans and replace the existing single-storey building with a new three-storey block providing three one-bedroom and three two-bedroom wheelchair-accessible flats all with accessible lift access.

Five car spaces would be provided in the car park at the rear of the building.

To avoid creating a new access from Hatfield Road onto the site, the plan is to use part of the driveway of the block of flats next door at Queens Court.

But a spokesperson for Queens Court residents said: "If the applicant had deliberately set out to cause maximum inconvenience and distress to Queens Court's residents they could not have come up with a better proposal.

"The parking provision in Queens Court, already at breaking point with cars parked up on pavements and grass, will be made even worse and this will affect not only all residents of Queen Court, but the whole of this section of Hatfield Road.

"Nobody at Queens Court knew about a right of vehicular access to the library site via Queens Court's driveways as it has never been used and St Albans Council did not warn residents when it sold them flats under right to buy legislation.

"No mention of this access is made in lease documents.

"Most bizarrely, residents of the new building will only be able to use the left driveway which is used to enter Queens Court, but not the right-hand driveway which is used as the exit. They will therefore be driving both in and out of the "in" , clearly this is potentially dangerous."

Cllr Joyce Lusby, who has now called in the plan so that it can be considered at committee, said: "The county council do have right of way to this section of the Queens Court driveway but I am not happy about this plan on grounds of road safety."

Fellow Clarence ward Cllr Sheila Burton said she plans to speak against the plan when it goes to committee because she believes it could be better sited.

She said: "This is an extremely worthwhile project and a much-needed facility.

"But I believe the block could be sited further back and a new access road provided despite Herts Highways objections. I need to seek further clarification but I do believe there are ways round things which might keep everyone happy."

A spokesperson for St Albans District Council said residents can view the plans online or at the council offices. The planning reference number is 5/2009/1911.

People can comment on the application until November 10 by emailing planning@stalbans.gov.uk, or by sending a letter to the Planning Department at the Civic Centre, St Peter's Street, St Albans, AL1 3JE. All comments received will be considered when the application is determined.

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