Expert View: Why St Albans’ new Local Plan is so important

Alastair Woodgate

Alastair Woodgate - Credit: Archant

Alastair Woodgate of leading local chartered surveyors Rumball Sedgwick shares his views on all things property-related

The new Local Plan

There is still time to have our say on how the St Albans, Harpenden and the surrounding villages should develop over the next 15 years. St Albans District Council’s public consultation runs until 21 February. The new Local Plan will identify what can be built, and where, up to 2036. Balancing the needs of homeowners, businesses and community groups whilst seeking to preserve and enhance the quality of our urban areas and rural environment will be a challenge. There are difficult decisions to be made and the more of us who respond, the more the Local Plan should reflect our aspirations for the City and District. We can fill in the online questionnaire at

The end of the refurbishment opportunity?

From April of this year, landlords will not be able to let homes with Energy Performance Ratings of F or G. Now the Committee on Climate Change has suggested consideration could be given to banning homes with poor energy performance from the sales market, requiring owners to upgrade them to at least Band E before being allowed to offer them for sale. While we must do everything we can to improve the energy standards of our housing stock, this is one idea that doesn’t seem to have been properly thought through. It seems unreasonable that someone experiencing financial hardship could be forced to find funds to improve their home and would be unable to sell it if they couldn’t afford to do so. Or that someone inheriting a deceased’s estate would have to do it up before selling: that could put an unnecessary burden on a lot of people. The house ‘in need of modernisation’ is an attractive proposition to many buyers who are looking for the opportunity to refurbish a property to their own taste and style. Surely the way forward is incentives to encourage property owners to improve the energy performance of their homes at the point of purchase, not restrictions at the point of sale.

The mark of a good estate agent

I was asked recently to identify the qualities that make a good estate agent. To my mind the essential attributes are an infallible honesty and integrity, tenacity, great communication skills and a thorough knowledge of the local market. And since buying and selling houses can be stressful at times, it’s essential for an agent to make sure that his or her client feels supported and happy. These were the qualities displayed by Graham Steel, Rumball Sedgwick’s sales manager, who sadly passed away last week after a short time living with cancer. Graham was a true gentleman of the estate agency world, who invested his working life in the city he loved. He received real satisfaction in helping people find the perfect home, and rejoiced in their successes. Always immaculate and always wearing a smile, Graham was respected by his business peers and by the many clients he served so well over the years. He will be sorely missed.

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For property advice contact Alastair on 01727 852384 or at