St Albans Poundworld site may be turned into block of flats

Poundworld on St Peter's Street in St Albans.

Poundworld on St Peter's Street in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

A planning application has been lodged to turn the former Poundworld site in St Albans city centre into a block of flats.

Poundworld went into administration in June 2018, and the vacant site in St Peter's Street was bought by a private investor in February this year.

If the district council grants planning permission, the first floor and part of the ground floor will be transformed from a retail to a residential space, and three additional storeys will be constructed.

The block of flats will consist of 22 dwellings, including two studio, 12 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom flats, as well as areas to store bins and bikes.

St Albans Civic Society has objected to the application because they believe the height will interfere with the skyline of the city centre, although they do not object to the building being turned into flats.

Chairman Tim Boatswain said: "The civic society has objected to the development on a couple of grounds. The first is that we think it's too high and could set a bad precedent, and breaches what we consider the city's historical skyline, as demonstrated by the long views from Verulamium Park and Batchwood. We suggested the height needs to be decreased by one storey.

"We also think the facade is inappropriate because it's too heavy. We'd be happy to assess any amended designs for the site because we have a design group.

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"We recognise in terms of retail St Peter's Street has got to change. We have no objection to the fact that it's a block of flats, it's just the design of the building.

"I can't imagine the appeal will be granted in its present form."

Poundworld started trading at the 534-square-metre site in 2010. The store was owned by TPG Capital and employed thousands of people worldwide, and 16 people in St Albans lost their jobs when the business went under.

Simon Grover, Green Party councillor for St Peter's Ward, said: "It's important that any development in St Peter's Street is in keeping with the historic city setting, and doesn't dominate either by design or scale.

"But the principle of creating more central living space on a brownfield site is a good one."

The application is currently under consultation by the council's planning committee, with a decision expected by October 21.