St Albans Maryland convent proposals face more criticism

There are concerns that the surrounding area won't cope with the influx of traffic from the build

There are concerns that the surrounding area won't cope with the influx of traffic from the build

Archant

Controversial plans to demolish a former convent and build flats have once again caused concern following the submission of new proposals.

Residents are not happy about the proposed development at the former St Albans conventResidents are not happy about the proposed development at the former St Albans convent

Beechcroft Developments initially proposed to demolish the Maryland Convent and Residential Home on Townsend Drive and construct four blocks consisting of 42 two bedroom and six one bedroom retirement flats.

The plans came under fire from neighbours who were concerned that the building would have a detrimental effect on its surroundings.

Eagle-eyed objectors also noted the developers were proposing ‘three bedroom flats’ on their website and the plans featured a number of ‘extra rooms’, which prompted accusations that the company were not being transparent in their application.

Now a second set of plans have been submitted which feature 26 three bedroom flats, 16 two bedroom flats and six one bedroom flats - and the increased number of people potentially living in the flats has led to even more concern.

Proposals to demolish the convent and build flats have been met with criticismProposals to demolish the convent and build flats have been met with criticism

There is also no suggestion that the flats are intended as retirement homes and residents now fear that sales could be targeting families as well as the elderly.

The new plans could see about 130-140 people living on the premises with a need for car parking spaces which could have a large impact on surrounding traffic flow.

Nigel Johnson, of Townsend Drive, said: “To allow this development, this size, in an unmade road with virtually no infrastructure, close to an expanding primary school, existing parking problems and traffic hazards would simply defy common sense. Checkbox criteria have their benefits but to what extent does the planning process take into account common sense?

“Do the many dozens of local objections count for nothing? We do not want this huge development, its traffic implications and road safety dangers. And it is a monstrously large development – its area footprint is many times that of the existing buildings which it is proposed to replace.”

Maryland Convent on Townsend Drive could be turned into three, two and one bedroom 'retirement' flatsMaryland Convent on Townsend Drive could be turned into three, two and one bedroom 'retirement' flats

The blocks of flats would also impact the appearance of the area. Nigel continued: “It would overshadow and eclipse neighbouring homes and dominate the skyline for hundreds of yards from most directions.

“Develop the site, of course, but based on sensible proposals, properly discussed with the local neighbourhood. Less dense, residential housing would be a more logical solution. The current plans should be firmly and unequivocally rejected.”

In a comment on the application, the Townsend Drive Private Road Householder’s Association said: “We note that in your description of the development you no longer include the term ‘retirement’. We never did believe that these properties would only be available to elderly people.

“The developer will build these properties and then walk away, leaving residents to live with the parking problems caused by occupiers of these dwellings having more cars than anticipated.”

Tracy Harvey, St Albans council’s head of planning, said: “We will carefully consider the views of residents and other interested parties made during the consultation.

“Any concerns they have will be included in a report submitted to councillors on a planning committee. They will then make a decision on the application.”

Consultation on the plans ended yesterday (23).

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