Your letters to the Herts Ad...
PUBLISHED: 08:50 13 October 2017
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In your report of the council’s decision to refuse an application for an affordable housing scheme (October 5), you described the local house-building target as controversial “with some arguing it’s 200 a year, others arguing a figure of only 100”.
I can confirm that that the target for newbuild affordable housing in St Albans district is 200 properties per year (1994 District Local Plan Review) but the council has only managed to deliver 10 in the six months to September 30 2017 and a total of 66 in 2016/17.
When the target was set it was acknowledged to be a considerable underestimate of the overall need for affordable housing - which includes council/housing association homes, affordable rented properties (80 per cent of local market rents) and shared ownership schemes like this recent one.
The assessed need is for 335 new affordable homes each year (Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2015) and the long history of failing to meet this is leaving more and more local people struggling in adequate and insecure housing.
The recent announcement from central government of funding for an extra 5,000 new council houses across the country will do little to address the current shortfall.
To get a sense of the scale of the most urgent housing need, there are currently 77,240 families in temporary accommodation across the UK. That figures includes 120,540 children.
Labour District Group Leader
Glenferrie Road, St Albans
I am writing to yet again bring to councillors’ attention the dangerous lack of pedestrian crossings around the King Harry junction.
There are at least five schools and nurseries around this area with children on bikes and scooters and parents with buggies trying to cross in both directions on both Watford Road and on Watling Street. There is no safe way to cross.
This morning I saw an 11 or 12 year old boy navigate his way through two rows of cars (heading into town on the Watford Road) then try to pause on the small half-way point with his bike while waiting for a chance to continue his crossing to head toward Malborough School. There was no space to keep himself and his bike off the road and drivers were making no allowances for him.
I then had to cross in the opposite direction with two small children pushing their scooters and myself pushing a buggy, all trying to again squeeze into this tiny middle section before trying to weave through the two lanes of aggressive drivers to the steep bank leading up to the footpath on the other side.
Yesterday morning was even worse with a motorbike speeding around the corner from Watling Street while my four and six year olds were crossing with bikes and myself with a buggy, he didn’t even slow down, just swerved around us, with one son now crying from the fright, we had to get past the two lanes (outside lane driver used the grass verge as a shortcut up to the junction) and again up the steep bank that is even trickier with bikes.
Drivers also like to drive on the pavement on the King Harry Lane to undertake the cars that queue to drop off children at St Columba’s College, with no regard to pedestrians.
I am tired hearing that people have stood with clipboards assessing the traffic flow on these junctions. I am tired hearing that there is money available (since the King Harry development was built) but that councillors are trying to find the right solution with listed buildings etc to take into account.
I first mentioned these concerns five years ago and it is getting worse.
Is the council waiting for one of my children to be killed? Or another child? Or their parent? Elderly people also have to play chicken with motorists to cross the road at the bus stops. Are councillors waiting for the rail freight to be approved adding even more traffic to the area? Which one of them is going to make the simple and obvious decision to put a pedestrian crossing on the Watford Road and on Watling Street near the round-a-bout?
Perhaps the fatality on Camp Road will make the council address the similar issues on that side of town. It is sad that we need to lose a life before action will be taken.
A bit of white paint and a couple of flashing yellow lights. Are the school children not worth that? Councillors should forget their long-term plans for this junction, just send someone out to put in two crossings and keep pedestrians safe.
MAIRÉAD ALWELL By email
As both a St Albans resident and a known supporter for a new central hospital for West Herts, I would appreciate the opportunity to respond to Mr Wigley’s letter in last week’s Herts Advertiser.
In supporting the redevelopment of Watford General Hospital, Mr Wigley has clearly ignored the difficulties that many St Albans residents face getting to Vicarage Road and then finding a parking space.(strange when you consider he is chairman of the St Albans and Harpenden Patient Group).
He also didn’t mention the steep hill from the car park to get to the hospital buildings or that it is right next door to a premier league football club.
Then we come to the redevelopment of the Vicarage Road site - where was the mention that the redevelopment will not be completed until 2030 and cause years of disruption and inconvenience?
Or that stages of the redevelopment could be delayed or even cancelled depending on the availability of NHS funding?
Regarding suitable sites for a new hospital - Mr Wigley might not be aware of suitable sites for a new centralised acute services hospital but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any!
I can think of a few but I will not mention them because that is not the point of my response to Mr Wigley’s letter.
He then mentions about keeping services at St Albans City Hospital - the Herts Advertiser who are, in my opinion, very responsible in reporting matters that affect us all, have run stories about wards closing and certain services being moved away from our hospital.
My understanding is that despite WHHT’s assurances that additional services will be provided in their submitted Strategic Outline Case (SOC) at St Albans Hospital, these are not set in stone and can be varied.
Let’s not kid ourselves, the current St Albans hospital site will never be anything more than a satellite hospital because someone in their wisdom took a decision a long time ago to sell off much of the hospital grounds for housing.
St Albans, and West Herts residents in general, need to make NHS executives and our West Herts Hospital Trust aware that we are not satisfied with redeveloping inadequate existing hospital sites.
We don’t want our hospital services disrupted for years whilst these works go on, and we deserve a better long-term solution to meet the needs of an ever increasing and ageing population.
St Albans and other West Herts residents should soon have an opportunity to register their support for a new and centralised emergency and specialised care hospital in West Herts, when a new online petition is started.
Warren Road, St Albans
Please could you help highlight the following
1. House prices are high and will remain so while central banks flood systems with money and keep interest rates low;
2. Population growth is a core issue;
3. Reducing buy to let via charges would help stop investors pushing prices up - yes, there would be fewer rental properties, but that would be balanced by fewer renters ( as more would buy instead of landlords doing so);
4. Giving houses to young single mothers like in Oaklands does not reduce prices for normal workers and only incentivises poor family planning;
5. Council houses do not need to be in places like St Albans - why should some pay through the nose to live in this city only to see a council tenant next door getting the place for cheap or free, then a nice bonus of right to buy!
6. The government needs to drive more jobs up north;
7. We must stop cramming houses into new sites - pay less money when converting Green Belt sites and put fewer houses on. We could have leafy new developments that are nice to drive past and live in rather than the new brick jungles;
8. Build smaller places that are more affordable. Gabriel Square is mainly £800k and £1.3m houses!
I hate the thought of this city being ruined by unfair property plans.
GILES SOMERS By email
Further to your recent article about Rennie Grove Hospice receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) I would like to inform your readers that the Hertfordshire Lieutenancy would be delighted if any of your readers nominated a group for this award.
The only stipulation is that they are not paid members of staff or volunteers in the charity or group. The QAVS is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise the outstanding work carried out in their own communities.
It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and is the MBE for volunteer groups.
Any volunteer led group of two or more people in existence for over three years that provides a social, economic or environmental service to the local community can be nominated. The winners are announced on June 2 every year.
Entry is free, nominations can be made at time, and the deadline for next year is Friday September 14. Notes to help you can be found at https://qavs.direct.gov.uk PENNY WILLIAMS Chair, Hertfordshire Lieutenancy QAVS panel