SIR, — St Albans Civic Society notes with interest and concern that a planning application has been submitted by Antringham Verulamium to redevelop the former County Council building, Hertfordshire House, and the adjoining car park fronting Bricket Road a
SIR, - St Albans Civic Society notes with interest and concern that a planning application has been submitted by Antringham Verulamium to redevelop the former County Council building, Hertfordshire House, and the adjoining car park fronting Bricket Road and Victoria Street (Herts Advertiser, December 11). This is a minor part of the larger City Centre South site which also embraces the police station, the health centre and the magistrates court.
Since 2006, the Society has been calling on the district council to prepare a brief for the whole of the City Centre South site. The council's own consultants made a similar recommendation at the end of 2005. A master plan for the regeneration of this area is essential if it is not to be developed in a piecemeal manner.
Given the absence of an overall plan, it's quite conceivable that partial development could kick-start the process in entirely the wrong direction. It could result in the worst of all possible worlds.
The Society has attended meetings at which Antringham Verulamium presented early ideas for Hertfordshire House. As and when the application is formally registered - it had to be sent back as incomplete - the Society will comment on the detail of the proposals.
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But, even as things stand, the scheme has some obvious drawbacks: it would remove at a stroke some of the best environmental features of the City Centre South site (the mature trees and open areas), create a canyon effect in Victoria Street and Bricket Road, and corner much of the commercial benefit of the regeneration exercise. If there are to be any civic benefits, they would have to be provided elsewhere.
The implications of this proposal are far greater than can be gleaned from a casual glance at a sunlit "artist's impression".
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Chair, St Albans Civic Society.