Audio visual store pulls the plug on trading in St Albans city centre

A LONG-standing independent audio visual store has closed in the city centre, blaming a loss of trade caused by “parking changes.”

Richards Audio Visual at the top of St Peter’s Street, which had been operating for more than 15 years and had won a number of retail awards, has followed in the footsteps of neighbouring shops which have closed over the past year.

A notice in the window read: “Due to parking changes in this area, this business has become unviable, and has subsequently been closed down.”

The decline of shops at the northern end of the high street has raised concerns about the quality of services left in the city.

One resident, Tony Hazell of Palfrey Close, St Albans, said: “Richards was a beacon of quality in an area of St Albans that is degenerating at an alarming rate.

“Empty stores now litter the top end of St Peter’s Street and those that do open often fail quickly or appear temporary in nature.

“Shoppers who dare to venture into the centre with cars risk being pounced upon by predatory traffic wardens; it was the zealously enforced parking restrictions that finally put an end to Richards.”

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He added: “The north end of St Albans is in danger of becoming a ghetto of cheap chain stores, fast food outlets and empty shop windows. But the planners seem either oblivious or simply don’t care.”

Steve Deakin, parking contract manager at St Albans District Council, said: “The only change to parking arrangements relating to the shops in St Peter’s Street, St Albans, that we are aware of is the pedestrianisation of the service road in front of the shops as part of improvements works undertaken by Hertfordshire Highways in 2005.

“Commercial vehicles are still able to offload and deliver goods to the shops in St Peter’s Street via the service road.”

And he said that the council introduced a loading permit in 2008 following feedback from retailers in order to enable customers to collect bulky items from outside shops.