Council leader identifies priorities for 2021

St Albans Civic Centre is set for major changes next year.

St Albans Civic Centre is set for major changes next year. - Credit: Archant

Despite the current challenges, the business of council cannot rest, and there are key priorities already identified for St Albans district in 2021.

Council leader Cllr Chris White explained: “The big focus I think is climate. It’s not gone away, and I mean, if anything it is ramping up.

The Civic Centre Car Park. Picture: Danny Loo

The Civic Centre Car Park, known as CCOS North. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

“The Local Plan is seven or eight years out of date and doesn’t have the language of climate emergency. I can see a situation where a new Local Plan says new builds should not have gas boilers as they are a terrible producer of carbon, and that will be a radical step.

“We also need to look at building in EV points on new builds and retro-fitting to existing builds.”

He continued: “Clearly social housing continues to be an issue, and we will be driving up the number of sites. We’re also working very closely with businesses, and we’ve got to get the BID through renewal next year. The work they’ve done, and the change in approach, all that’s got to be good and people will hopefully vote for that.

“We’re talking to the market traders, giving them a voice and stopping it from making such a loss - six figures for something which is clearly thriving is not good. Most of this came from erecting the stalls, something which isn’t widely popular with the traders. They would rather have their own way of displaying their goods.

“Then there’s this site and the redevelopment of the council car park, CCOS (City Centre Opportunity Site) North, which could be developed into something which is a mix of social housing and a cultural centre, but also paying good money back to the community for the rents.

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“I’d quite like to get hold of the car park for the old Nationwide building and turn it into a play area. We don’t have one in the centre of St Albans so that would be attractive. My vision is that if we put more housing around here then it should be for older people, as they need services like those provided at the civic centre, they’re not very mobile and they’re also around during the day and use the shopping centres and the market much more.”

He said there are also new types of accommodation which are needed. “We need to think about live-work spaces, so if you’re an internet professional you don’t want to be living with your parents but a little flat with an office downstairs is going to appeal to a lot of people.”