PUBLISHED: 11:38 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 06 May 2010
SIR, — I wanted to highlight an issue regarding the seeming inevitability of demolition and development in St Albans. There are many cases here where sites are marked for demolition and no matter the levels of campaigning and the scale of the protest, the
SIR, - I wanted to highlight an issue regarding the seeming inevitability of demolition and development in St Albans. There are many cases here where sites are marked for demolition and no matter the levels of campaigning and the scale of the protest, the plans of the developers always go through in the end. It appears only to be a question of time.
Last week Wattsdown - a site developer - was given permission to demolish the now crumbling 30s'-style Odeon cinema on London Road after a long saga of campaigning against the plans. The iconic building is clearly a part of St Albans' heritage and an example of art-deco design. These buildings get into such a state that it becomes easier and easier for developers such as Wattsdown to convince the council the longer time has had to chip away at the building's delicate facade.
This all despite the Odeon being locally-listed, and within the St Alban's Conservation Area. Indeed it seems only a matter of time until anything like this gets labelled a "blight". How can an icon of the city become something that can be so easily brushed aside and replaced by such faceless, half-baked architecture? Is it all too easy just to demolish because retaining and working to preserve is such an unattractive prospect?
The inevitable beating drum of development seems poised to march over the Pioneer Youth Club just off Harpenden Road on a prime piece of land. The Pioneer has an indoor skate park and it was a music venue but bands are no longer able to play gigs there. You have to be over 18 to see a band because most of the venues are pubs - I wonder where adults expect kids to go?
We don't have a cinema and the only other recreation is the swimming pool. People without children might believe wrongly this issue doesn't affect them, but when the kids are left hanging around with nowhere to go and nothing to do, it becomes something that everyone is affected by. Children get to a certain age where they feel the need for an amount of independence. Facilities like the Pioneer Youth Club, where they are allowed to channel their energy, meet and spend time are an important part of this community. What will replace the Pioneer? An outdoor skate park? Not all youths skate - it's not enough. Music for youth is important - it's a rite of passage. No matter what genre of music, it's a creative outlet.
Come on St Albans, wake up. We are letting the council sleepwalk us into homogenised blandness with no facilities. We deserve better as a city.
Waverley Road, St Albans.