Cathedral bid in planning crisis
- Credit: Archant
After months of planning, fundraising and negotiation, a new multi-million pound visitor centre project for St Albans Cathedral looked ready to jump the final hurdle.
After all, if the scheme had already won the approval of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, the district archaeologist and various other organisations, then it would surely receive the green light from our district council.
Because you would think if there were any perceived problems with the project, then the council wouldn’t wait until the eleventh hour to register them, but would enter into a period of negotiation with their neighbours at the Cathedral.
In fact, council officers waited until after the statutory deadline for a planning response, and just a matter of weeks before the scheme went before councillors for approval, to insist upon major changes to the design which could throw the entire initiative into jeopardy.
Quite why they have waited so long to register any objections to the scheme is surely something councillors will be asking at Monday’s meeting of the planning referrals committee, especially given the publicity and transparency which has surrounded the proposal since it was first unveiled.
After all, this is not simply a matter of giving the nod to a residential loft conversion, it is a massive initiative set to reap huge benefits for the city, and its instigators deserve more respect and consideration than this last-minute objection.
We can only hope that our elected councillors show sense and give the scheme the go-ahead, rather than threaten to derail the entire project on the say-so of officers who without doubt have left things far too late to be kicking up a fuss now.
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