Shopping centre entrance in St Albans set for revamp after successful appeal

ID shot of St Albans Town Centre, Market Place, Entrance to Christopher Place

ID shot of St Albans Town Centre, Market Place, Entrance to Christopher Place - Credit: Archant

The revamp of a St Albans shopping precinct entrance, which will force a longstanding floral business to vacate its premises, can now go ahead after a planning inspector gave it the thumbs up at an appeal.

St Albans district council was asked last year for approval to extend the retail unit previously occupied by Millets at Christopher Place into the neighbouring flower kiosk, to create additional floorspace at No 19-21 French Row.

But the council did not determine the application within the statutory timeframe, so Hermes Property lodged an appeal.

In its appeal statement for the planning inspectorate, the authority said it would have refused the scheme as it would “result in an unsympathetic and visually garish form of development unbalancing the existing retail building line to the detriment of the character and appearance of the retail unit”.

Planning inspector Philip Willmer said he had considered whether the extension into the kiosk would “preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the St Albans conservation area”.

The former Millets store is in a three-storey building comprising a shop on the ground floor with storage on the upper floors. Christopher Place was built in the early 1980s.

Mr Willmer said the extension would be contained by the archway at the entrance, and would not “project in front of it”, as feared by the council.

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He also referred to the loss of florist shop, Flowers! Flowers! from its small premises at the entrance, saying, “I am aware of local concerns in respect of the loss of the existing business here.

“I am sympathetic to the desire to retain what I understand to be a popular independent business in the city centre.

“However, the protection of an individual business is outside the scope of this appeal.”

The floral shop has been asked by Christopher Place management to consider relocating inside the precinct.