Meraki Christmas Festival receives planning permission from St Albans district council

PUBLISHED: 10:53 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:53 07 December 2018

Visitors to the St Albans Christmas Market in the Vintry Gardens. Picture: DANNY LOO

Visitors to the St Albans Christmas Market in the Vintry Gardens. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Archant

The Meraki Christmas Festival has been given planning permission by St Albans district council.

Peter Trevelyan at the planning referalls committee meeting at St Albans district council, speaking in objection to the Meraki Christmas Festival application. Picture: SADC.Peter Trevelyan at the planning referalls committee meeting at St Albans district council, speaking in objection to the Meraki Christmas Festival application. Picture: SADC.

Last night, the planning referrals committee gave the go-ahead for the festival to take place on Verulamium Park - with strict conditions.

The site, the Front Meadow, must be reinstated to the state it was, grass and all, three months after the market finishes.

Despite 97 letters being sent to the council in support of the festival, there was some opposition, including from Green councillor Simon Grover, who said: “I am concerned about the music and noise aspect of this application.

“I would think it was possible to have a Christmas market here without constant loud music that would disturb neighbours and users of the park.”

Cllr Geoff Harrison, speaking in his capacity as the vice chair of the planning referrals committee, at the St Albans district council meeting on the Meraki Christmas Festival application. Picture: SADC.Cllr Geoff Harrison, speaking in his capacity as the vice chair of the planning referrals committee, at the St Albans district council meeting on the Meraki Christmas Festival application. Picture: SADC.

Speaking as an objector to the festival application at the meeting was Peter Trevelyan, who spent much of his two-minute time limit attacking the planning officer responsible for presenting the application to councillors.

He said: “The case officer’s planning balance is wrong. She says it will cause harm to the Green Belt, but argues this is acceptable because of the economic benefit to the city centre.”

“But this is simply wrong. The proposal will be located over 800 metres from St Peter’s Street and retail development more than 500 metres from a city centre actually draws expenditure out of the nearby centre.”

Committee vice-chair Geoff Harrison responded: “I strongly respect Peter Trevelyan, but I think he has got it wrong on this occasion.

Kerry Marks at the planning referalls committee meeting at St Albans district council, speaking in favour of the Meraki Christmas Festival application. Picture: SADC.Kerry Marks at the planning referalls committee meeting at St Albans district council, speaking in favour of the Meraki Christmas Festival application. Picture: SADC.

“I firmly believe this will be a great asset to the community.”

On concerns that market goers will not want to walk up Holywell Hill to visit the city centre, he said: “I am just waiting to go into hospital for a new knee and I put my body through stress to check what it would be like to go up and down Holywell Hill and I survived without a lot of painkillers, so I think the suggestion people will not go up and down the hill is very incorrect.”

Festival organiser Kerry Marks spoke in favour of the application and said: “We really need in the city something that more beautiful, more interactive and more fun.”

She said the festival was for “all incomes”, however several of the events at the event are priced.

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