Expansion bid for London Colney shopping centre
- Credit: Photo courtesy of St Albans district council
MAJOR expansion plans to extend an out-of-town shopping centre in St Albans by 90,000 square feet has won both applause and words of caution from a business spokesman.
Developer Ramheath Properties has submitted an application to St Albans district council (SADC) to knock down temporary university accommodation and extend the Colney Fields shopping park at London Colney.
The site of the proposed expansion is just beyond Next to the north of the car park on land currently occupied by Ridgeview, the former hostel for the homeless which is currently rented by the University of Hertfordshire for student accommodation.
Ramheath, applying on behalf of Sainsbury’s, wants to add six new retail units, from 5,000 square feet upwards, totalling 90,000 sq ft.
Demolishing Ridgeview would also provide space for about 130 more vehicles at the busy shopping centre.
The proposal includes road network improvements, including traffic lights operating during peak times at The Bell roundabout and an additional vehicular entrance from Barnet Road.
Martyn Elkington of Kenham, development manager for Ramheath’s proposed scheme, said it would deliver up to 150 new full and part-time jobs.
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He added: “Given the current economic climate I think people are looking forward to this sort of investment in London Colney.”
Cllr for London Colney Jacob Quagliozzi said that following a public exhibition recently hosted by the developers to explain their plans, concerns had been raised about the suggested new access. Some local people had also been “anxious” about expanding the car park.
But chairman of London Colney parish council Cllr Ian Orton welcomed the application, saying it would provide jobs for locals and increase shopping choice.
He said: “But there is a concern about traffic implications at The Bell roundabout, and an additional new entrance to the car park.”
Cllr Orton said that the council was keen to work with Ramheath to resolve such issues.
He added that Herts county council had previously raised concerns about The Bell roundabout and had said it would like traffic signals placed at the major intersection.
There is already a Section 106 agreement, or planning obligation, in place to signalise the roundabout following approval granted by Hertsmere borough council for an 86-bedroom hotel to be built close to the McDonald’s restaurant.
Peter Goodman, president of the St Albans District Chamber of Commerce, said while he was “pleased” about a possible increase in the area’s retail space, he was aware of the potential impact on existing businesses in the likes of the city centre and Harpenden.
He said: “You have to look at both sides. If it means more employment and more retail space, I’m in favour, but you can’t help but look at our empty shops in Harpenden and St Albans and assume it will impact even further.”
In 2011 SADC accepted Sainsbury’s conditional offer for the district council’s lease of the Ridgeview site, subject to contract.
The supermarket giant owns the freehold of the site, and the offer is conditional on it receiving planning permission for the retail expansion.
Further details of the scheme are not yet available as the council was still validating it at the time of going to press.