Councillor bounces around different options to opponents of St Albans trampoline park
PUBLISHED: 17:25 30 September 2015
The actions of a district councillor who - in an unusual move - wrote directly to residents opposing a proposed trampoline park outside of his patch have been criticised as inappropriate.
Alun Davies, a councillor for St Albans’ most central ward, St Peters, has written to people objecting to a scheme for a trampoline park on the outskirts of the city at Unit 1, Alban Park, near Homebase off Hatfield Road.
Applicants Luke and Sarah Sims have this year lodged two plans with St Albans district council, asking for a change of use from general industry to a trampoline park at the 37,000 sq ft site.
While a decision on one application is still pending, the couple have lodged an appeal to overturn the council’s rejection of an earlier bid.
In April, the authority spurned the scheme because of concerns over the impact of noise upon neighbouring residents, and fears that its go-ahead would lead to overspill parking encroaching upon nearby roads.
Cllr Davies has recently written to people lodging online objections to the trampoline park, saying, “I am in principle in favour of such a facility for use by the residents of the whole district.
“However I am keen to understand how your concerns could be addressed. It is not acceptable for issues including noise and traffic to become a problem for residents like yourself as a result of any planning application so I would like to explore how these issues could be tackled up front.”
But this has annoyed councillor for Colney Heath Chris Brazier as the scheme affects his ward.
He said: “It’s inappropriate. Alun Davies has written to all the people who have objected. I think it is outside his scope, to contact local objectors. Also, they are now confused, because they don’t know what he has to do with the scheme.”
However Cllr Davies defended his moves, telling the Herts Advertiser that the application affected more people than just those living near the site.
He added: “My involvement came about because I have been contacted by parents who heard about the scheme, and were in favour of it as it would be for the wider community.
“There are hundreds of people with young children and adolescents who would love something like this.
“I thought that as people had objections, I would write to them.”
Cllr Davies said that the couple who had lodged the application have tried, in their recent application, to address concerns in relation to parking issues and “don’t want to upset residents”.
He said that some objectors had contacted him following his letter to them.
But while he would “put their views forward” when a council committee discusses the second proposal next month, he regarded objections as “Nimbyism” as opponents “don’t want it in their backyard”.
He added: “The scheme is a district-wide issue, not just for the local ward. We absolutely need more facilities like a trampoline park. This is an opportunity for the district. I did sports science at university, and I do have an interest in sport. Children in this area don’t have enough facilities.
“I am more than happy for other councillors to spoke about applications in ‘my’ ward.
“It’s sad to think that it’s unusual for councillors to talk to people – because who is listening to the objections? I’m trying to mediate with the potential owners, to see if we can come to some compromise.”
Cllr Davies said that there was a lack of capacity for sports groups such as gymnastics clubs which need new facilities as they have “massive waiting lists”.