Major development planned for centre of St Albans

Marlborough House in Upper Marlborough Road, St Albans.

Marlborough House in Upper Marlborough Road, St Albans. - Credit: Matt Adams

The redevelopment of a prime office block in St Albans city centre has not been welcomed in all quarters.

Last year leading property company Telereal Trillium bought Marlborough House in Upper Marlborough Road for £7.9 million.

At the time of the purchase the company's development director Duncan Brisbane said: “St Albans is widely recognised as a highly desirable place to live and work with excellent transport connections to London and elsewhere.

"We believe Marlborough House represents an exciting opportunity for our team to ensure this prime city centre site is regenerated and continues to make a positive contribution to day-to-day life in St Albans.”

The company has now unveiled plans to demolish the building, which it says has reached the end of its economic life and is not suitable for conversion into residential, and replace it with a development of 87 new homes.

But neighbour Richard Hollis says residents in Upper Marlborough Road and Liverpool Road will be negatively impacted by this development, and despite public consultation, there has been no acknowledge of their concerns from the developers.

He suggests there has been no consideration of the environmental impact of demolition over redevelopment, that 87 homes is too much for the site and will place undue strain on the local infrastructure, and the parking provision of 21 spaces is inadequate.

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He said: "The so-called benefits to the immediate local community are spurious and unquantified. How much social housing stock out of 87 units?

"The disproportionate height and close proximity to the boundary creates an overpowering street view and sightlines, dwarfing neighbouring properties.

"Proposed parking facilities for the new homes are unrealistic and inadequate. This would result in increased pressure on parking spaces in the surrounding streets, and additionally result in increased traffic, air quality and highway safety issues."

Duncan Brisbane has directly responded to his concerns, insisting replacing Marlborough House with new homes would create a more attractive building within the Conservation Area, while also ensuring they were more efficient and cheaper to heat.

He also used the lack of a Local Plan to justify the scheme: "As you will doubtless be aware, St Albans is under enormous pressure to deliver the homes it needs. The council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply and there are hundreds of Green Belt sites being put forward to address the shortfall.

"Both national and local planning policy encourage the development of suitable brownfield sites which are well connected both to public transport links and existing local amenities. The site at Marlborough House is therefore a very suitable and logical site for development."

Marlborough House in Upper Marlborough Road, St Albans.

Marlborough House in Upper Marlborough Road, St Albans. - Credit: Matt Adams

When it comes to parking, he said Telereal Trillium is being guided by SADC on how many spaces they should provide onsite, with the aim of encouraging the use of sustainable transport from the outset.

"Future residents will also be restricted from applying from a residents’ car permit to park in the surrounding streets which are covered by a CPZ."

He added: "We are still in the relatively early stages of the development, so do not yet know what the viable maximum amount of affordable housing the scheme can provide is."

The developers will now be considering the feedback from the public consultation before submitting a full application for planning permission.