Abbey Precincts Residents Association
Minutes of 26th APRA Committee Meeting, 16 January 2019, 8.30 pm, Six Bells PH, St Michaels
1. Present: Peter Trevelyan (Chair), Robert Pankhurst, Andrew Yaras, Norman James, Kate Buckley. Apologies: Geoff Dyson, Justin Douglas
2. Minutes of the last committee meeting and the November 2018 AGM were approved.
3. Points arising:
AGM was reported as successful by several members. Jane Parker had been thanked for her talk and we should consider what to do about the letter to residents that she had drafted, e.g., incorporate in the planned Welcome Pack; KB would circulate a copy to committee.
Window stickers had proved popular at the AGM and immediately afterwards, but little interest has been shown since apart from requests for extras to use as car stickers – we could now afford to release more for this purpose [RP]
The Waxhouse Gate information plaque is in the hands of the Civic Society to negotiate permissions [NJ]
College Place resurfacing will be a full asphalting procedure but was not yet schedules. Building work at the end of the cul-de-sac was apparently in abeyance over lack of progress on the contamination Condition.
Brick pavements are continuing to deteriorate. Repairs and improved signage for the Lower Dagnall Street junction with College Street must be pursued with Sandy Walkington [GD, RP]
Sandy had hinted at a possibility of re-painting three lampposts in the Conservation Area as a start – we thought that two in Spicer Street would be the top priorities [RP].
5. Planning, Licensing, Enforcement
The redevelopment of 1 Mount Pleasant was still delayed by a legal process, but the developer had recently asked for a Variation to the landscaping Condition.
Conversion of an integral garage to a living room in Bowes Lyon Mews had been refused by SADC Planning Committee, but was now subject to an appeal to HM Inspectorate.
A planning application has been made to expand two shop fronts inside the Heritage Close courtyard. APRA had submitted an objection on the basis that it did not respect the integrity and period of the site.
A comment had been submitted on an application for four roof-mounted air conditioning unit at 5 College Yard, asking for guarantees that they should be screened to avoid unsightliness and noise pollution.
6. Verulamium Park events
The Meraki Christmas Festival had started one week later than advertised and was affected by bad weather. It had to be emphasized that this was solely due to mishandling of planning and licensing applications by the organisers and SADC: it was not the responsibility of residents who had pointed out the deficient applications. Repeated attempts by Herts Advertiser columnists to blame ‘nimbys’ was incoherent, objectionable and unrelated to the facts. APRA has submitted comments to the SADC reviews of the experience and promotes expansion and improvement of the Charter market and its surroundings in the city centre as the best way to publicly celebrate the festive season. We expect to participate in SADC-led reviews of the Christmas Market situation and ways of improving it [PT, RP].
The devastation of the Water Meadow once the festival had been removed was noted and the condition that it be reinstated within 3 months. Nonetheless further events are being planned including a Pub-in-the-Park food and rock music weekend has been announced for 13-15 September. Tickets go on sale on 1 February, despite the fact that the current Park licence will not cover this without further Variation. We are concerned that SADC is following a course of using Verulamium Park as a money-raising asset without due consultation with the residents of the city.
7. Great concern was expressed at the continuing loss of mature trees in the Conservation Area, highlighted by recent felling in the grounds of Verulam House Nursing Home. Despite objections from ourselves and Aboyne RA, permission has been granted for second round of felling, and inquiries by Cllr Taylor (St Peters) suggest that SADC cannot refuse permission for tree works unless a Tree Preservation Order is in place. We need to pursue this further, starting with taking opinion from members at the APRA talk on 7 February by Kate Bretherton (author of The Remarkable Trees of S Albans).
8. Current membership figures were hard to estimate since the start of a new subscription year in November. Some Street reps might be willing to knock on doors to collect payments, but the Membership list available for use [which shows 30 paid-up members] is hard to keep up to date taking Standing Order payments into account as well. It looks as though a fresh chase-up will be necessary [JD, AY]
9. Conservation 50. We had paid £100 as agreed into the start-up costs and the Civic Society had contributed £500. Plans for the conference venue were settled (6 July, Dagnall Baptist Church); those for a reception in the New Museum & Gallery were in hand (KB organising) space has been allocated for a photographic exhibition (GD). Funds were being sought.
10. AGM had agreed that using Facebook to contact members was not likely to be effective as insufficient would use it on a daily basis. An Instagram account might be more suitable for members to send photographs of issues [KB, RP, AY].
11. Norman was asked to investigate arrangements for a summer social event at Parkside House once more, for which the Bishop had extended a renewed welcome.
12. Sustainable St Albans fortnight (11 May- 1 June) was noted.
13. Next meeting: Wednesday 20 February
The meeting closed at 10.15 pm