Neglected garages torched by arsonist ‘look like a ghetto’: St Albans councillor

Cllr Tom Clegg at the scene of the burned out garages in St Albans

Cllr Tom Clegg at the scene of the burned out garages in St Albans - Credit: Photo supplied

An arson attack on a garage at a popular shopping precinct in St Albans has left the area “looking like a ghetto”, a councillor has warned.

Herts Police are investigating after fire ripped through a garage at Wycombe Way, off The Ridgeway in Marshalswick, last Saturday (10).

A police spokeswoman said the fire, which took place at the garage block alongside The Quadrant between 4pm and 4.20pm, “is being investigated as arson. There was damage to the roof and electric door of the garage, as well as to a vehicle inside it.”

Photos of the burned out garage show a fire-gutted Morris Minor inside it, along with sheets of corrugated metal.

A spokeswoman for St Albans Fire Station said that firefighters extinguished the blaze by 4.51pm.

She said: “The car was well alight and the garage was also on fire when they arrived. Garages nearby were also affected.”

The arson attack has prompted district councillor for Marshalswick, Tom Clegg, to warn: “There is an ongoing issue with these garages. There are 16 in a row, most of which are owned by a developer who has planning permission for conversion to a number of units.

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“We now have a situation with health and safety issues, but no one is taking responsibility for the problem, and it looks like a ghetto in Marshalswick.”

Three years ago the Herts Advertiser carried a story about local opposition to a proposal for the construction of flats at the site, submitted by Guernsey-based Remise Investments Ltd.

The scheme to demolish 12 ‘redundant’ garages to make way for six new garages, along with four two-bedroom and four one-bedroom apartments was rejected by the council, but later approved at appeal in 2013.

Cllr Clegg said: “I’m angry because these garages have become structurally unsound because they have been neglected. I’ve notified environmental health about my concerns.

“I’m worried that someone is going to get injured – that would be a nightmare.”

Cllr Clegg said that it was not up to the district council to take responsibility, as the developer “should be making the area safe.

“It looks like a ghetto, and you don’t expect this sort of scene in the middle of St Albans. Residents have been talking to me about their concerns, as nothing is happening with the garages and they have been allowed to look like a skip. Some of the garages even have caved-in roofs.

“The developer has to take responsibility.”

The Herts Advertiser has been unable to contact Remise Investments.

• Herts Police are appealing for information and witnesses in relation to the arson, and are seeking details of a man seen in the area at the time of the attack. He is described as 6ft 3ins tall, and wearing a white hooded top and black tracksuit bottoms. Contact non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 if you have information.