Plans to build flats on St Albans Poundworld site rejected

A plan has been rejected to build a block of flats on the former Poundworld site in St Peter's Stree

A plan has been rejected to build a block of flats on the former Poundworld site in St Peter's Street, St Albans. Picture: Fraser Whieldon - Credit: Archant

Plans to transform the former Poundworld store in the heart of St Albans into a five-storey block of flats have been refused.

The plans would have seen part of the ground floor and the basement of the St Peter's Street store remain available as retail space, while the remainder of the ground floor, the first floor and an additional three storeys would become a development of 22 flats.

The store has been vacant since Poundworld closed in 2018 and, according to information submitted with the planning application for the site, there has been no interest from retailers in taking the whole building.

At a meeting of St Albans district council's planning referrals committee on Monday, councillors rejected the application on the grounds that it would exceed the council's existing height limits - and would be even higher than the controversial hotel already planned for the former BHS site.

Councillors agreed that the 'excessive' height, as well as its bulk and design, would not fit with the character of the street or the conservation area.

They also pointed to other concerns relating to daylight, drainage and servicing to the development.

Labour Cllr Katherine Gardner, of London Colney ward, said it was very rare for her to be as opposed to an application as she was to this one.

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She also said that starting to convert retail space was a "very dangerous precedent" to set, and questioned whether it was really that hard to find a retailer to take over the space.

Conservative Cllr Sandra Wood said she could accept a 'joint' use of the building, in principle, but that the proposals as they stand would have an adverse impact on the street.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Jamie Day suggested the existing building was "not particularly attractive", and said he would be happy to have it replaced, but that this was not the right replacement.

The proposed development would include 12 one-bed flats, eight two-bed flats and two studios.

In their report to the committee, council officers said the building's facade is overly complicated and incongruous, and that is has a 'top-heavy' appearance.

They also pointed out the impact the loss of shops would have on tourism, and that if the plans went ahead not enough of the provision would be allocated as affordable housing.