Batchwood Hall’s Berlin Wall BBQ plan attracts objections

PUBLISHED: 16:50 30 September 2016

Batchwood Hall in St Albans wants to use four sections of the original Berlin Wall in its BBQ area

Batchwood Hall in St Albans wants to use four sections of the original Berlin Wall in its BBQ area

photo supplied

A St Albans nightclub’s proposal to install sections of the Berlin Wall in its barbecue area has been blasted as “totally inappropriate” and an “eyesore”.

Batchwood Hall, in Batchwood Drive, has asked St Albans district council for permission to put up four sections of the original Berlin Wall – a barrier dubbed the ‘Wall of Shame’ which divided Berlin and was torn down by crowds in 1989.

Among those objecting to the scheme is St Albans Civic Society, which said “these concrete blocks have no local historic context”.

The civic watchdog group added that the sections “would appear incongruous next to this notable Victorian building and unsightly above the surrounding timber fencing in views across the Batchwood estate.

“The erection of the wall sections would adversely affect the quality of the landscape.”

A Batchwood Drive resident said: “This is totally inappropriate for the location [and] has no relevance to the history of Batchwood Hall or St Albans.”

She said it was, “just another eyesore to add to the unkempt appearance of the building”.

Another objector said they were, “strongly opposed to the erection of four segments of the Berlin Wall … which I consider is entirely inappropriate within a landscape conservation area.”

The bid’s “rapid rejection” was called for by an Everlasting Lane resident who said, “it is hard to imagine anything less in keeping with a Victorian house”.

The local warned that, “at 3.6m high, they will be clearly visible above the fencing surrounding the barbecue area from the putting green, the golf holes approaching the house, the car park in front of the hall, the golf club house, for people leaving the bowls club and from the terrace in front of Batchwood Sports Centre.

“Any historical interest they may be considered to have does not excuse their extreme ugliness, their irrelevance to St Albans in general and to Batchwood in particular.”

The objector added: “I know that the council hopes to get ‘green flag’ status for the Batchwood estate and I can not see that such ugliness will further the arguments for this.

“On a more practical level, the footprints of each block, which from the plan appear to be 2.4m wide, will seriously ‘get in the way’ of any barbecue activity.

“They will be a hazard to the health and safety of patrons of the nightclub. And what a temptation for graffiti. The whole thing is – hopefully – a joke.”

However, a Herts Police representative labelled the scheme as ‘novel’.

From a crime prevention perspective, there were concerns the Berlin Wall sections could “become targets for damage or even graffiti”, so CCTV with night time capability would need to be installed.

The police representative said: “With this simple precaution, I would be able to fully support this novel application.”

But, the Friends of Batchwood group also objected, saying it seemed, “totally inappropriate to site sections of a concrete block wall – even if it is historic – within the grounds of a Victorian manor house.”

District councillor for Batchwood, Roma Mills, has asked for the proposal to be called-in for a committee decision, rather than be determined by council officers.

She said that while the proposal, “may be innovative, it is incongruous to the historical legacy and setting of this building, and would make a negative impact”.

The scheme, which proposes to have the freestanding sections serve as a feature in Batchwood’s barbecue area, will be decided by a planning committee on November 14.

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