Moving on

SIR, — A visitor who entering St Albans along London Road, greeted on their left with a dilapidated cinema, would surely concur with the Civic Society s view that it should be retained for the sake of its heritage! On their right, they would view a dereli

SIR, - A visitor who entering St Albans along London Road, greeted on their left with a dilapidated cinema, would surely concur with the Civic Society's view that it should be retained for the sake of its heritage! On their right, they would view a derelict site that has remained so for almost a decade. Welcome to the historic town of St Albans.

Having lived all my life in St Albans and been a once-frequent visitor to the Odeon cinema in my youth, I too may have been saddened by its demise in the 90s, but we have to move on. Yet the secretary of the Civic Society implies that the building should be retained because of its heritage. The fact that rendering is falling on the pavement below and therefore a hazard to safety is irrelevant. The fact that it is now, unfortunately, an eyesore also appears irrelevant. The solution? Hanker for fantasy cinema developers who mooted possibilities of interest two years ago. If he had been seriously interested, he would have made a move long before now. It is reassuring to know that the Civic Society is in touch with the current economic climate and preaching to Wattsdown of their impending financial perils of making a profit if they build on this site. Hello! Perhaps, as a successful business they may have done their sums and already calculated the profit on their outlay.

We all want to see St Albans move forward and maintain heritage but not for the sake of it. But as the procrastinated and protracted approach by council planners , Civic Society and developers rolls on (Tesco site, cinema on the Civic Centre car park, Odeon cinema to name a few), with argument and negative criticism they are only advancing the day when St Albans will surely crumble as did Rome in it's heyday. It's time to get real and proactive and get decisions made.

Heaven forbid we develop a Jarman Park, but there is a real sense of opportunity to develop realistic facilities such as a cinema , bowling alley and other amenities for all ages to enjoy in this town. With increasing numbers of youths hanging around St Albans street corners, such facilities could hopefully reduce what could become a potential problem, as witnessed in other towns. Perhaps the solution, best for all residents in the town, is for our elected Council to take the bull by the horns and search a way to complete a compulsory purchase order of the old Evershed's site and develop it as an amenity for all to enjoy. Or is it that Tesco is too powerful to be challenged in this way?


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Hanging on to the past with remote expectations of restoring previous glories is a head in the sand approach. Rather than the negative criticism proffered through local press, perhaps the way forward would be to look at what else is going on around the town. The youth of this town and the visitors are not going to be in awe of a dilapidated cinema just because it was a bastion of social gathering 30 or 40 years ago. If Wattsdown can create an aesthetically pleasing development, then I propose, let them go ahead and get rid of the eyesore on London Road.

PETER BAKER,

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Salisbury Avenue, St Albans.

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