Mixed reaction to St Albans development

The Pioneer Club

The Pioneer Club - Credit: Archant

A NOTE of caution has been introduced by a county and district councillor over the publication of a timeline for the development of a sensitive St Albans site.

Cllr Roma Mills, who represents St Albans north on the county council and Batchwood ward on the district council, has given a mixed reaction to the proposed development of the former fire station site near Harpenden Road.

She has warned local residents to be on their guard in case the developer who gets ownership of the site does not respect the guidelines laid down by the county council.

At the beginning of this year, the county council revealed it was inviting expressions of interest for the land, known as the Ariston site, which housed the former fire station as well as the Pioneer Youth Club, the skate park and St Albans Judo Club.

The brief proposes a mixed residential and community use as well as provision for the preservation of the adjoining Lower Field and alternative facilities for the Pioneer Club and skate park.

The judo club is to be rehoused in the Batchwood Sports Centre when building work is completed.

A public exhibition of the council’s broad proposals is pencilled in for September with potential bids received in November.

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Cllr Mills believes there is still a long way to go before residents can feel reassured about the long-term future of the site.

She said: “Herts County Council says its own proposals will largely reflect the planning permission that was originally granted for the site back in 2002.

“The good news is that this included the need for any buyer to re-provide for valuable community services such as the Pioneer, and ruled out any development of the Lower Field, which is a really vital green space for the whole area.”

She added: “However, we’ll have to wait and see what the successful buyer actually has in mind, and in particular what they will offer the Pioneer.

“I’m very concerned that once a developer has ownership of the site, they will not respect the guidelines set out in the county council’s proposals.

“It was evident at the elections in May just how much this area matters to the local community, and we’ll certainly need to keep a careful watch on the whole process.”