Herts Ad Comment: Looking forward to the year ahead

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STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

The forthcoming opening of the new St Albans museum and gallery is justifiably at the forefront of many people’s expectations in the district for 2018, but what else - good or bad - do we have to look forward to this coming year?

Certainly the most decisive, and defining development of the next few months will be the debut of the revised Local Plan, which goes out for consultation shortly.

It remains to be seen whether the district council has learned any lessons from its previous failings, which saw the last plan thrown out by a planning inspector, who criticised the lack of cooperation with neighbouring districts.

Apparently meetings have been taking place between SADC and the likes of Dacorum, Hertsmere, Three Rivers and Watford, but the lack of any published minutes from these sessions casts doubt over what has actually been resolved.

Should SADC not get it right this time then they face the prospect of government intervention, which could prove catastrophic.

Of course, tied up in any future developments within the district is the issue of the proposed rail freight site on the former Radlett Airfield.

In the past SADC has refused to consider the Green Belt land for housing, but many campaigners now believe this is a much more agreeable prospect than a rail freight depot.

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Whether we will finally see a resolution on this long-running issue over the next 12 months remains to be seen.

Another issue which has been dragging out for years is the state of Verulamium Lake, with the council now working alongside the Environment Agency, Affinity Water and HCC to find a long-term solution to years of mismanagement.

What we don’t want to see is another summer of stinking, stagnant water filled with the dead bodies of various birdlife, so hopefully the agencies concerned will pull their fingers out and act quickly. After all, it’s not as if they haven’t had years of procrastination to get it right.

On a positive note, the summer will also see the return of the district’s major new music festival, Meraki, following the success of last year’s debut year, and the Herts Ad will be bringing our readers all the latest news from the organisers over the coming months.

We should also see some more positive developments from St Albans’ new BID in the wake of its success with the Christmas lights, with the redevelopment of the former BHS building in St Peter’s Street also of key interest.

Will we also find out what’s to happen with the former Butterfly World and Gardens of the Rose sites? Can we finally establish once and for all whether a big cat is prowling across the district? Is there any chance of saving Nascot Lawn respite centre? Will the Christmas market break even this year?

Things are certainly far from quiet across the district, and there is always plenty of news to fill the columns of the Herts Ad both in print and online. As always, if we can help you publicising any local issue, community campaign, charity challenge or ongoing concern then please get in touch.