PUBLISHED: 11:11 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010
SIR, — I am writing in response to the letter sent by Mr John Lindgren (Herts Advertiser, January 1). Sadly, his observations are absolutely spot on and I agree that we need to be careful concerning the future of St Albans; otherwise it might not have muc
SIR, - I am writing in response to the letter sent by Mr John Lindgren (Herts Advertiser, January 1). Sadly, his observations are absolutely spot on and I agree that we need to be careful concerning the future of St Albans; otherwise it might not have much of a future at all.
Having lived happily in this area for 30 years, it seems to me that St Albans has lost its way regarding what sort of place it wants to be. It just can't seem to make up its mind whether it wishes to continue proudly as a classy, cathedral city with an impressive Roman history, or deteriorate into yet another dreary clone town. Classy towns don't happen by accident - they are designed with that objective in mind. St Albans was more pleasant when I came to live here in 1978 but I've seen some changes for the worse and I'd like to mention some.
One thing we didn't need was the zoning which has made on-street parking near the city centre impossible. It means that instead of being able to leave my car in the dozens of places that existed many years ago, in order to nip to the shops, I have to either leave my car much further away or pay to park.
This is a disincentive to come into town, whether you are a resident or a visitor, and I blame our incredibly greedy district council for inflicting this unnecessary situation on us. Having said this, a lot of towns are guilty of this anti-driver state of affairs and St Albans is by no means the worst - Barnet is much worse being totally driver-unfriendly. This short-sighted money-grabbing view prompts me to do serious shopping in places like Brent Cross where I can park all day free and not worry about traffic wardens creeping around spreading misery.
You may ask why I'm reluctant to pay a quid or two to park my car conveniently. The answer is that it doesn't stop at a quid or two - if I make a mistake and come back a few minutes late, it could cost me 50 or 60 pounds, whatever the going rate is. It's just not worth the worry for the convenience of shopping in a town with such disappointing shopping conditions.
A city that takes itself seriously should have a department store and a cinema. St Albans is a bit of a joke in as much as it used to have these and now has none. Hatfield has a cinema and Hemel has a department store, albeit recently, and I know St Albans residents would like to have both these facilities. Instead of plans for a cinema or a store, we have a battle raging over whether Tesco should have a sprawling supermarket on London Road. This, of course, would be a disaster but there has already been much correspondence about this and I will just say that I find it utterly ridiculous that we cannot make this threat disappear.
John Lindgren suggests in his letter that "a responsible body" should conceive a strategy for the city centre and this too is a good idea, because away from the cathedral area, our city centre is not particularly attractive. But who on earth would make up this responsible body - business consultants from London? The "body" should consist of people who live and work in St Albans and care about it, not a bunch of mercenaries who care only about charging fat fees for useless advice.
I sometimes wonder what St Albans will be like in 15 or 20 years time. Considering the anti-social and driver-unfriendly ideas that have been forced on us in recent years, the forecast is grim.
Kingfisher Close, Wheathampstead.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Herts Advertiser. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.