Built Environment
2016/17 Annual Report
It has been a busy year monitoring planning applications, where necessary attending meetings and exhibitions related to local development proposals. 

In instances where it was thought appropriate by the committee, the Society has submitted comments, sometimes favourable and sometimes critical.  Those observations, with accompanying recommendations where relevant, necessarily carry more weight than would be given to those from individual residents.  Most importantly, during 2016, we have made detailed comments on St Albans District Council’s Strategic Local Plan (SLP) and its associated District Local Plan, with attendance at the SLP Inquiry.

Two major developments in the last year - Park House, on the former James Marshall House site adjoining Rothamsted Park, and at the Harpenden House Hotel (below)location - have, from the earliest stages, been subjects of Harpenden Society comment submissions. These were followed by significant amendments to the original plans, in both cases easing the visual impact of the proposed buildings.  

The Society’s more general concerns about planning applications remain the over-development of sites in the town, particularly the demolition of perfectly sound houses which are replaced by seven- or eight-bedroom ‘mansions’, that are then typically occupied by just two or three people. Equally undesirable are those instances of  several buildings being crammed into a small plot, despite the loss of amenity suffered by neighbours. The Society has been asked to support objections by neighbours in some cases.

The seemingly endless proliferation of restaurants opening in Harpenden, often at the cost of small retailers closing down, is another area of concern.  Likewise the change of use of public houses to residential. The loss of the Three Horseshoes in its delightfully rural setting at East Common and of the former Harrow pub (latterly Charlie’s - above) at Kinsbourne Green to residential are particularly regrettable.  In the latter case the site lies across the county boundary in Bedfordshire, so  local Harpenden planning requirements could, for the developers, be conveniently disregarded.

Mike & Pauline Waddilove and John Lowe