Controversy over Harpenden Tesco development

The Tesco site on Luton Road

The Tesco site on Luton Road - Credit: Archant

Harpenden residents upset at a supermarket giant’s push to convert a parade of shops into one store have been further annoyed with a scheme for a two-metre-high fence.

Tesco has recently gained approval from St Albans district council for a new shopfront and side elevations at 95-101 Luton Road and 2 Park Mount.

It was also given the green light to install an automatic telling machine and several illuminated signs, despite neighbouring residents’ objections to the applications.

Former tenants at the site – including a butcher’s shop, news agency and wine store – were asked to leave the parade in 2012 to make way for the new development.

The latest application lodged by Tesco, to change a condition attached to an approved conversion of the premises, has sparked more objections from locals.

They oppose the scheme as it proposes a two-metre-high timber fence, at first floor level, surrounding two fan condensers and three air conditioning units to be positioned on a new flat roof.

The mooted change, which is under consideration by the council, is in relation to an already approved scheme for a first floor rear extension to create one two-bedroom and three one-bedroom flats.

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The site comprises a two-storey L-shaped building with retail space on the ground floor and four residential units on the first floor.

Cllr for Harpenden North, Bert Pawle, has called the application in for determination by the plans (north) committee, citing concerns over the visual impact and noise from the air conditioners and fans.

He said the proposed two-metre high fence at first floor level surrounding the plant would be “unsightly”.

In their objections to Tesco’s latest scheme, residents have told the council that the sheer size of the plant would be “overbearing”.

One neighbour said: “The noise generated by two fan condenser units and three commercial air conditions units is unacceptable in a residential area such as this.”

And the owner of 2B Park Mount said time spent in, “our beautiful garden will be utterly destroyed and we will be subjected to unbearable, monotonous noise throughout the day and night”.

A spokesman for Tesco said the company was “really excited about the chance to open a store in Harpenden”.

He said Tesco believed the store would be popular with the community, as it was in a convenient location and would create around 20 jobs for local people.

The scheme is expected to be discussed by district councillors later this month.