24th APRA Committee Meeting, 15 August 2018

Abbey Precincts Residents Association
Minutes of 24th APRA Committee Meeting, 15 August 2018, 8.00pm, Six Bells PH

1. Present: Peter Trevelyan (Chair), Geoff Dyson, Robert Pankhurst, Andrew Yaras, Sally Hickman, Norman James, Kate Buckley. Apologies: Justin Douglas

2. Minutes of the last committee meeting were corrected and approved.

3. Points arising:

  • We hope that Jane Parker, SADC Waste Management, will soon finalise a letter to all Conservation Area residents on Council recycling collection policy that might also be used in an APRA Welcome Pack [KB].
  • Kate produced a rough draft of a window sticker for members, which was commended. Sally was doubtful of the purpose, as some households are prohibited from window displays; Andrew wanted more explanatory information to be shown [KB] {Noted added: cost about 60–70p each, RP}.
  • There has been no recent activity on the Heritage Close redevelopment plan.
  • The Civic Society and the building owner have agreed to the idea of a Waxhouse Gate plaque but logistics and costs are not yet resolved and SADC approval will be necessary. Peter suggested contacting David Lloyd who arranged the Verdun tree plaque [NJ].
  • Peter and Sally reported on outline plans for landscaping of Sumpter Yard and Vintry Gardens as a new entrance to the Cathedral Welcome Centre.
  • Resurfacing of College Place is now scheduled for the end of 2018/start of 2019. Clearance of the garage site is largely complete (with much disruption to residents) but construction of the two houses has not begun. Such heavy traffic will make resurfacing difficult, possibly ineffective and short-lived. There is concern about the possible loss of stone-set gutters as previously occurred in College Street (damaged sets never restored) [KB].
  • Blue-brick pavements in and around Spicer Street are in an increasingly dangerous condition, as highlighted in our June Newsletter: HCC should be reminded. SADC require two further estimates for the repair of the railings in Romeland; Geoff also warned of dangerous metal fencing at the top corner of the Brickie [GD].
  • Robert was thanked for his work in producing the June Newsletter, which had been well received. Over 570 were delivered.

4. Planning, Licensing, Enforcement

  • Robert reported that members were upset that the third application for housing at 1 Mount Pleasant had been passed too easily by SADC committee after the previous version was refused by HM Inspectorate: one has asked the Secretary of State to intervene. We supported members objecting to an application to convert an integral garage to a living room in Bowes Lyon Mews: this was called-in to committee by Cllr Hill but the Planning Officer is recommending approval {decision meeting Monday 20th August}. We were invited to comment on the revision of the SADC Brownfield Site Register, but none fall within the APRA area.
  • Sally spoke at a Licensing Sub-committee meeting as objector to alcohol licensing hours for The Canteen, 3 George Street. APRA had not been formally asked to help {decision awaited}.
  • A private letter (Moragh & Michael Ormiston together with Peter) has been sent to the Planning Scrutiny Committee to complain about the apparently deliberate failure of SADC to issue enforcement notices for breaches of approved plans.

5. Membership. Now 150, the highest ever. Ed Suttie was leaving St Albans and had asked if APRA and VRRA could merge. Some parts of Verulam Road are out of the effective APRA area but we would welcome any orphaned VRRA members who would like to join us [RP].

6. Conservation 50. Robert announced a proposed public event to celebrate establishment of a St Albans Conservation Area in 1969 and discuss its future. This would consist of an afternoon of conference and ‘Question Time’-style panel, an exhibition, and a party. Robert and Kate, as well as some other APRA members, are already in the steering group led by Tim Boatswain (Civic Society, Chairperson), but most of the work would be conducted by groups consisting of anyone from the wider community keen to be involved. It was agreed to donate £100 from APRA funds to the start-up costs [RP, AY].

7. Some members had reported excessive noise disturbance during the summer, mostly associated with outdoor screening of World Cup football at Ye Old Fighting Cocks PH (on one occasion Police had attended to deal with rowdy behaviour in the surrounding streets) and UK’s Strongest Man competition at Westminster Lodge, 27-29 July (when amplification had been set much too high and permitted timings had been exceeded so that SADC environmental officers were called). It was hoped that the planned Christmas market at Westminster Lodge would be better controlled.  We had written to the landlord of YOFC asking for more consideration of neighbours and advance warning of Temporary Event variations of the licence; a personal visit could also address concerns about the untidy and unauthorised use of public space outside. It was primarily up to those affected to establish a record of verified disturbances with SADC before we could take further action.

8. Kate felt strongly that we need a more immediate way of communicating with members, especially younger ones, and had been in touch with the Secretary of Fishpool Street RA; a meeting should be arranged to learn more about their Facebook and blog system [KB].

The meeting closed at 10.10 pm