Concern over St Albans jobs

EVERY morning hundreds of people commute to jobs outside the city, but according to civic watchdogs, St Albans needs to become a place where more people are able to live and work.

St Albans Civic Society has said the recent vacation of several office blocks in the city centre is one of the reasons why more people have to travel to jobs outside the area.

And they want to see the city turned into a place that will attract new businesses and bring more job opportunities for local people.

Committee member Eric Roberts said: “There has been several applications in the last 12 months to turn quite substantial city centre office blocks into another use.

“This has taken away local jobs for local people and it means if people want to work we have to commute and the society doesn’t think everybody should have to commute. We cannot take away the fact St Albans is a commuter dormitory to London but train fares are not cheap.”

He added: “We have got to protect our jobs stock so that when the economy comes back and firms want to expand or relocate they can come and be in St Albans.”

The society has said they want to prevent former office premises in Victoria Street, Dagnall Street and Fishpool Street from being turned into flats or used for other purposes.

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They are also concerned if people leave the city to work it would damage high street trade by stopping workers from shopping and eating locally during lunch breaks and after work.

Heather Cheesbrough, St Albans council’s head of planning and building control, said: “The council takes an informed and individual approach with planning applications, considering each on its own merits and the context in which it sits.

“Retaining and where appropriate expanding or supporting the development of new employment sites in sustainable locations, such as St Albans city centre, is a key planning consideration.”