Controversy in the conservation area as plans unveiled to demolish St Albans bungalow
PUBLISHED: 06:00 17 August 2016
Scores of objections have greeted a controversial planning application which goes before St Albans councillors next week.
The application from Beechwood Homes proposes to demolish an existing bungalow in Mount Pleasant and build a five-bedroom detached property and six terraced town houses on the site.
Adjoining occupiers from roads such as Welclose Street, New England Street, Lower Dagnall Street and Hill Street together with the Abbey precincts Residents Association, Old Garden Court Management and St Albans Civic Society, have unanimously objected to the scheme which has been ‘called in’ to Monday’s meeting of St Albans planning central committee because of the strength of local feeling.
The objections range from overdevelopment and poor standard of design in the conservation area to increased traffic congestion, insufficient parking and the threat to trees on the site.
Many of the objectors have voiced concern that the block of four-storey terraced houses would be overwhelming, out of character with the area and block views of the Abbey.
One resident pointed out: “The houses around here fit into and follow the landscape; this block will dominate it.”
The area is currently marked by low rise mixed housing which blends in with the narrow roads of the conservation area and residents fear that if it is approved, it will scar the city.
Despite the number of objections, planning officers are recommending approval of the scheme. They consider the new building to be acceptable and in keeping with the surrounding street scene and the conservation area.
They do not accept that the site would be overdeveloped or would have an adverse impact on neighbouring properties.
The officers also believe the car parking provision is acceptable and the access would not prevent the free and safe flow of traffic on adjoining roads.
As a result of the recommendation, a Freedom of Information request has also been made to the district council asking for sight of documents relating to consideration and consultations with Beechwood Homes over the proposal.
It has been made on behalf of residents who believe the application is ‘seriously and fundamentally flawed’ and should not have been put before councillors with a recommendation for approval because it breaches and ignores policy guidelines, especially in a conservation area.