Herts Ad comment: Preparing for a landmark year...

Herts Advertiser comment

Herts Advertiser comment - Credit: Archant

As 2016 comes to a close, our attentions are already focused on the year ahead, and what it might mean for St Albans.

In many ways, 2017 could be a landmark year for the district, with key decisions and developments which will shape the future of our beloved city and its surrounding communities.

The much-maligned local plan could finally be taken out of the hands of the district council and into the control of the government if urgent steps are not taken to resolve concerns raised by the planning inspector. This would mean crucial decisions on the location and quantity of new housing would not be made at a local level, something this newspaper completely opposes.

Will troubled train operator Thameslink finally deliver on years of promises and provide a reliable service, or will commuters face another year of misery? The ongoing reconstruction of London Bridge station isn’t due for completion until spring 2018, which is causing knock-on delays across the network, so hopes of improvements may well be premature.

The county council could very well make a final decision on the future of the former Radlett Airfield site in Park Street, with various schemes mooted for the land providing an alternative to the hugely unpopular rail freight depot plan.

On a more positive note, we should start to see the construction of St Albans Cathedral’s new visitor centre, and the transformation of the old Town Hall into a museum and gallery, which will both be major attractions for the city centre. There are likely to be major disruptions when excavations begin under St Peter’s Street though, so consider yourselves warned. The future of St Albans City Hospital will hopefully be confirmed over the next few months, as part of a major review of hospital services in west Herts.

2017 could end up being the year everything changes. We want you to be ready. Keep reading the Herts Ad to find out how.