Plans to fell trees in St Albans city centre axed
PUBLISHED: 14:04 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:04 20 June 2018
Plans to chop down trees in St Peter's Street to restore a historic vista in front of the new Museum + Gallery have been axed.
St Albans district council (SADC) submitted a planning notice revealing the intention to fell three lime trees outside the former Town Hall to make way for a performance space
Planning permission was not required because the trees were not subject to a Tree Preservation Order, but the scheme received objections from St Albans Civic Society and various local residents.
Civic Society chairman Tim Boatswain said: “We were concerned that cutting down trees is not a good thing to do, particularly with pollution in the city centre.
“We obviously like the trees to stay if at all possible, they are natural, very nice trees and we don’t want these to be chopped down - but we don’t want to be fanatical and if there were a reasonable plan at replacing the trees we would look again.”
In the objection, the Civic Society said: “Their removal will detract from the streetscape to the detriment of the Conservation Area, which is losing its greenery and soft landscaping at an alarming rate.”
Concerned resident Sue Nash said she was dismayed by the proposals: “I believe that most St Albans residents and those people visiting the new museum would be horrified to know that this has been suggested.”
However, SADC has now withdrawn the notice, stressing it was only an idea and not definitely decided.
Portfolio holder for sports and culture at SADC, Cllr Annie Brewster, explained: “As part of the new Museum + Gallery scheme we looked at the historical significance of the Grade II* LIsted Town Hall and Courthouse and the vistas towards and beyond it from the north towards our most historic architecture.
“This view has appeared in etchings and photographs since the landmark building’s construction in 1831.
“In more recent years, three trees were planted in Market Place that do not line up with the main St Peter’s Street avenue of trees.
“They have each taken differently with the smallest struggling and the largest, nearest the Town Hall, almost completely obliterating the views I described.
“Our aspiration is for Market Place to become our Trafalgar Square, providing a cultural space to hold activities and performances in a flexible space whilst providing attractive outdoor cafe seating. The Royal Charter Market has taken place on Wednesday and Saturdays since 1553 but on non-market days the area in front of the Town Hall has little purpose.
She said after the “unexpected complaint” from the Civic Society, she decided the best option would be to withdraw the application and work more closely with them to find the most “fitting solution” going forwards.