Frustrated St Albans activist hits back at “illegal” driveways

PUBLISHED: 21:00 31 January 2018

Sandridge Road, St Albans. Photo: Krishan Bhungar.

Sandridge Road, St Albans. Photo: Krishan Bhungar.


A frustrated activist has hit back at “illegal” driveways across an unusual piece of green land known as the Sandridge Road Wastes.

Sandridge Road, St Albans. Blossom.Sandridge Road, St Albans. Blossom.

The stretch of grass separating houses from Sandridge Road is not just a wide verge, but is commonly owned land where farmers would historically get livestock ready for the market.

According to Government website, permission from the Secretary of State for Environment should be sought before this type of land is resurfaced.

But there are numerous houses along the stretch with a pavement, Tarmac, or concrete driveway which cuts across the land.

Friends of Bernards Heath chairman Peter Cook says he is dedicated to protecting St Albans’ green spaces and has complained to St Albans district council (SADC) about the driveways on several occasions.

He said: “The crossings have been put in for years and it has been an annoyance for years.

“People have been complaining but nothing has been done - perhaps the final straw was [one house with] block pavement.

“It’s nice block pavement but it’s completely unacceptable. It’s all part of the same abuse of the Wastes which is valuable green space that is gradually being eaten away.”

Peter added that the crossings are “completely out of keeping with the historical significance” of the site and are “illegal” without the Secretary of State’s permission.

A council spokesperson said: “Some landowners in Sandridge Road have the right to cross the common land written into the deeds of their properties. Others do not and require our permission to do so.

“We will normally grant permission when asked because we accept that people need access to and from their homes which are set back from the main road.

“We have guidelines that detail the acceptable width, height and materials that can be used in building a driveway.

“This is to ensure a certain degree of uniformity to keep the road looking good. Most residents share that objective and are happy to comply.

“However, we recently carried out an inspection and found that some of the 150 or so driveways were in a poor state of repair or did not conform to the regulations.”

SADC’s City Neighbourhoods Committee is in the process of drawing up a report about managing common land.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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