“This is probably the largest non-council led engagement on planning that St Albans has ever seen.” said Vanessa Gregory Chair of Look! St Albans. “Personally I am thrilled that the 166 different people of all ages who signed into one or more of the events helped to set the bar as to what is acceptable for the very heart of our city centre. It is a complex site with multiple owners. Some buildings will be retained and the levels within the site give opportunities, but also some constraints.
The two design concepts took hours of discussion, work, moments of pure inspiration and a healthy dose of reality checks. For example I was amazed to hear myself acknowledging the much loved Municipal Gardens, of which I have happy memories going back to the 1950s, was not performing its function well and probably needed to be in part re-provided for elsewhere on the site. The landscaping quality seems to be a golden thread throughout the two concepts creating a healthier calmer identity to this part of our city centre. I was inspired by others’ suggestions on how to improve The Alban Arena and delighted that the library will be coming out of hiding behind The Maltings and could be part of new health and learning complex.”
Angela Koch lead facilitator took her inspiration for naming the two design concepts from Samuel Ryder’s seed growing revolution and his significance for St Albans as a whole http://www.sryder.com/about-samuel-ryder.html
Vanessa continued, “This event cannot be viewed as anything but a resounding success, which is due to the willingness of ‘The Partnership’ comprising St Albans City and District Council Community Services, Herts Constabulary, NHS, Boultbee LDN (owners of The Maltings) who asked Look! to host the design charrette, the team of external independent facilitators (each experts in their field), St Albans District Council for allowing us to use their offices for the events, the community and stakeholders who gave well in excess of 1,000 hours of their time to produce the two design concepts, which are not mutually exclusive, as elements from both can help shape the Masterplan.”
The small, but highly motivated Team Look! volunteers gave hundreds of hours of their time to organise, arrange and host each of the four elements of the design charrette. Look! sent out in excess of 300 letters of invitation, many of which were hand delivered to neighbours of the CCOS site, and provided refreshments including wine for the report back session.
Look! St Albans as an independent community-led group were delighted to be given financial support from St Albans Chamber of Commerce and Kingston Smith to help publicise the event more widely, with our invitation delivered to over 36,500 home and businesses inviting them take part in this very important design charrette that will help shape the heart of our city centre for generations to come. Parish Councils were invited to publicise the event through placing our posters on their notice boards to ensure Look! invited as many people throughout the district as possible.
A video commissioned by Angela Koch and filmed by local renowned film maker Donato Cinicolo will be published online shortly.
It is anticipated that Angela Koch of ImaginePlaces will issue a more detailed report focusing on a description of each concept plan in more detail and that this will be published within the next few weeks.
Team Look! would also like to thank The Prince’s Foundation For Building Community who gave the community their support at the scene setting element of the design charrette.
Below are the two Debriefing Documents which were updated in October 2016 these contain rectifications which emerged when work took place on the more detailed report. The detailed report will appear in a separate post.