Herts Ad Comment: Sainsbury's at the Three Hammers and flooding in Park Street
PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 June 2016
There was a sad inevitability about Sainsbury's finally getting planning permission to build a store in a pub beer garden despite the volume of objections.
Planning applications, particularly from large companies such as the supermarket giant, seem to follow prescribed routes and the one for the Three Hammers in Watford Road, Chiswell Green, was no exception.
In the face of overwhelming local opposition, the district council turns down the application only for the company to go to appeal. On the first occasion that is unsuccessful - in this case because of the ‘significant noise’ it would cause to two neighbouring properties - and objections about noise, traffic, the impact on trade and the loss of green space are overruled.
So a second application is submitted, adjusting the impact on the two properties, which is turned down and once again there is a planning appeal. Inevitably it is allowed.
The same scenario has happened time and time again and no wonder it leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of residents - the people who live there and don’t want to see their Grade II listed pub alongside a modern convenience store.
It makes a mockery of public consultation because at the end of the day, planning determinations, particularly when they are made at appeal, are based on cold hard facts and not the impact on the lives of those who live and work nearby.
And what is even sadder is that eventually that patch of green pub garden where people sat outside drinking on warm summer days will be completely forgotten and new residents will flock to the store. That is what is called progress in this day and age.
Following previous flooding in March, residents and businesses in Park Street Lane feared a reoccurrence of the problem after noticing their drains were blocked several weeks ago.
They warned the county council’s contractors Ringway that this was a strong possibility, yet Ringway failed to take any action as there was no flooding taking place at that precise moment, instead of striving to prevent future incidents.
One might argue that their inaction indirectly led to premises being flooded by up to 3ft of water in Tuesday’s storms.
Claiming blocked drains have no impact on the effect of flash floods seems a very unlikely scenario, but that is what Ringway was saying this week in response to questions from locals.
Heavy downpours are unusual, but not uncommon, but residents claim flooding in this area has only occured when there are problems with the drainage system, rather than as a matter of course.
Naturally Ringway was very quick to dismiss suggestions of any links, but perhaps that’s down to them fearing liability if home and business owners take legal action, rather than a result of any comprehensive investigation of the site itself. One can only hope the firm resolves to clear these drains before the next storm.