Herts Ad Comment: Unfulfilled planning promises and Verulamium Lake pollution

This week's editor's comment...

This week's editor's comment... - Credit: Archant

Watching a block of flats go up when the current planning application has been refused is, unsurprisingly, infuriating residents of a large housing estate.

And frustrated as they are about the development on the former Napsbury Church in London Colney, it is every bit as galling for the Napsbury Park Residents Association to hear that no retailer is interested in opening a shop on the ground floor.

For they have seen documents that show the Co-op would like to open a store there but have found it difficult to negotiate with the developer. After all, what retailer wouldn’t want to open a shop serving the hundreds of homes on the site of the former hospital.

Now, the latest planning application for the site is proposing to do away with the store completely and replace it with two flats for the disabled.

How often do we hear that retailers/health clubs/schools and nurseries cannot be found for sites where there is a need for such facilities? Indeed it has already happened at Napsbury Park where a promised sports and leisure centre did not materialise in the earlier days of the development.

And way further back at Jersey Farm, a designated school site was eventually turned over to housing because there was apparently no desire for a school there - and we all know what the situation with school places is like today.

It would be crass to suggest developers jump on such opportunities but the Napsbury situation sounds a warning bell for the next tranche of housing developments in the district.

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Beware developers bearing gifts - because even if they promise the earth in terms of associated infrastructure, the chances are it will never be built.

For well over a year a stench has hung over Verulamium Lake, both actual and metaphorical.

The toxic water which has been allowed to fester there has killed birds and other wildlife and turned one of the city’s most popular attractions into a stinking, stagnant, scum-coated swamp.

This newspaper has reported on numerous suggestions as to how the council can clean up the lake, ranging from dredging the silt build-up and installing floating reed beds to the current proposal for an increased number of aquatic plants to further oxygenate the water, but for months nothing was actually done.

Now, after so much procrastination, this week we finally saw some visible signs of action, with a mini digger employed to remove some of the silt, although just how much of an impact this work will have remains to be seen.

What is certain is that St Albans residents will not stand for another summer of disease and death surrounding this once-proud landmark, and unless he solves the problem once and for all council environment boss Daniel Chichester-Miles risks the wrath of angry park users all over again.