Team Look! are a group of unpaid volunteers from all walks of life who have come together to work in the spirit of neighbourhood planning to arrange and host design charrettes between willing landowners and developers and the people of the district on significant developments in central St Albans.
The design charrettes are independently externally facilitated by professionals acceptable to both Look! and the landowners and or developers.
On many occasions people are asked to attend a ‘consultation’ on a planning proposal just before a planning application is submitted. Most of these are arranged by communication companies paid for by the landowner or developer to help them achieve planning permission for their proposals.
Many in the community believe barriers to good placemaking and design decisions is that, typically, consultation takes place at the wrong stage of the process;
Often when irreversible key development decisions have been made
After the preparation of designs
And often after much expense
Therefore the wider community is excluded from the creative part of the process, when local knowledge and a diversity of skills could help realise designs that everyone can support and are viable.
Team Look! believes passionately in design charrettes to achieve designs that everyone can be proud of, knowing their views will be treated just the same as anyone else.
In arranging a design charrettes we liaise with the lead facilitator and the landowners and or developers to ensure all relevant ‘stakeholders’ are invited to the charrette.
However above and beyond this all members of the community are encouraged and welcome to attend all our events.
Some of the tasks involved are:-
Preparing letters of invitation, sending them out either electronically or hand delivered.
Gaining as much publicity for the event including design work on advertising and paying for it where we cannot cover it ourselves. Including using our website and social media.
Finding and paying for a suitable venue to host the design charrette.
Arranging and paying for refreshments including wine on the report back session.
Being on hand throughout the design charrette to answer questions and give support.
For the Civic Centre Opportunity Site Masterplanning design charrette Team Look! put in excess of 320 hours of volunteer time ahead of the charrette and spent £2,774.89. The money was raised by grants and donations including a substantial donation by St Albans Chamber of Commerce and Kingston Smith.
We are very grateful for all the grants and donations we receive to keep Look! going from day to day including grants from some county councillors. As we arrange community engagement we cannot have a membership fee or any barrier to participation.
Vanessa Gregory Chair of Look! St Albans said “I am incredibly proud of each member of Team Look!, we all muck in with whatever task needs doing. We work well together and are always amazed at the support and encouragement so many people give us.
For many design charrettes are new and don’t know what to expect. It is always a joy to see people come along, give it a go and end up getting really involved.
Personally I will never forget the spirit of all those involved in the Civic Centre Opportunity Site Masterplanning design charrette. People care passionately about St Albans and that came over in spades with the designs we co-created!”
As many will know Team Look! have arranged a series of site visits to Oak Tree Gardens to watch with growing delight the progress of the new homes, which the people of St Albans who took part in the design charrette co-designed.
We were delighted Anne Suslak from the Herts Ad could join us on the 2nd of May.
The site visit started in bright sunshine but ended in a deluge of rain, but nothing could dampen our spirits.
Ann’s article and video can be seen here http://www.hertsad.co.uk/news/oak-tree-gardens-development-underway-at-former-st-albans-museum-site-1-5512481
Vanessa our Chair features in the video and commented after seeing it, “It really is emotional for me to see the development come to life hence getting in a tangle about ceiling to roof height rather than floor to ceiling height!
So many people, community and professionals came together to create something special. When it’s finished it will not just be brand new homes - it’s got that sense of homeliness about it already. I could visualise myself here.
The message should go out loud and clear that if you work with communities early on in the design stage you get them on board. It’s well worth that effort to make them a part of what is going to be built.
It just shows the level of what you can achieve if you work together.”
For the Museum of St Albans Charrette in collaboration with St Albans City and District Council and ImaginePlaces in the Planning and Placemaking Awards Community led Placemaking category Look! achieved a Highly Commended Southern England 2016. http://www.lookstalbans.org/1/post/2016/07/-look-st-albans-success-in-planning-and-placemaking-awards.html
The architect was Simon Cove of Kirby Cove Architects. As always our thanks go to Morgan Sindall for facilitating the site visits.
Following the announcement today that St Albans District Council has completed the purchase of the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust’s (HCT) Principal Health Centre, in Civic Close and a nearby car park formally owned by Angle Property Limited in addition to the purchase of the former Police station last year. https://www.stalbans.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/press-room/items/2018/May/2018-05-08-major-progress-on-city-centre-development.aspx#0
The following statement has been issued by Vanessa Gregory Chair Look! St Albans.
“‘Look! St Albans Our Community Voice on Design’ was delighted to be asked by ‘The Partnership’ consisting of St Albans City and District Council, Community Services, Hertfordshire Constabulary, NHS, Boultbee LDN (owners of The Maltings) to host a Masterplanning Design Charrette which took place in September 2016.
For this ‘The Partnership’, ImaginePlaces Ltd and Look! St Albans were jointly shortlisted both nationally and regionally for The Royal Town Planning Institute ‘Excellence in Plan Making Practice’ award. http://www.lookstalbans.org/1/post/2017/02/-look-st-albans-imagineplaces-ltd-and-the-st-albans-civic-centre-opportunity-sites-ccos-development-partnership-is-nominated-for-prestigious-planning-industry-award.html
Part of the Vision statement issued by ‘The Partnership’ at the time of the Charrette stated; ‘As landowners, we genuinely welcome this long-awaited opportunity to design, explore and test with you masterplan scenarios that will help us shape and coordinate a series of well designed, inspired and credible planning applications. We envisage bringing the individual planning applications back for further work on design detail beyond this masterplan work we are likely to be able to cover during this charrette.’ Full vision statement here https://www.lookstalbans.org/uploads/2/7/7/4/27749191/development_partnerships_vision_statement_working_draft_v1.4.pdf
I believe many who took part in that Masterplanning Design Charrette where we collectively produced two masterplan concept plans, both landscape led, Samuel Ryder Pavilion and Samuel Ryder Promenade https://www.lookstalbans.org/uploads/2/7/7/4/27749191/s_ryder_concept_plans_card_ccos.pdf would welcome the opportunity to work with the council, as envisaged in the vision statement, to work on the detailed planning applications. Drawing once again on the design codes co-created and endorsed by the community.
Because of the size and complexity of the site the redevelopment will have to be carried out in phases giving the community the opportunity to work on detailed plans, building on the work already carried out.
The city centre is our collective front room, we have an opportunity to leave a lasting proud legacy for future generations. We live, work and entertain in our city centre, we know it best.
The atmosphere and willingness of the community to work together to shape the heart of our city centre that we can all be proud of was palpable at the Masterplanning Charrette.
Although Angle Property were not a member of The Partnership (and had carried out their own public consultation earlier that year for their subsequent planning application) I was personally delighted that Tony Williamson, Executive Director of Angle Property owner of Hertfordshire House took an active part in the Charrette. Should we be asked to host further charrettes and he remains owner of Hertfordshire House, he will be more than welcome.
There have been many false dawns over many years for this particular site, we must put all that well and truly behind us.
This link leads to the report on the two concept plans setting out more information on both https://www.lookstalbans.org/uploads/2/7/7/4/27749191/ip_156_low_res__nov_2016_ccos_design_charrette_design_concepts_report_28th_nov_2016__.pdf
Our design charrettes are open to all, no voice is louder than anyone else, it is a joint endeavour. A real labour of love.
‘Look! St Albans Our Community Voice on Design’ is a unique inclusive community group that actively promotes community engagement on significant developments in central St Albans. We aim to take a collaborative approach to leave a legacy for the future that residents and developers can all be proud of. Look! St Albans remains impartial, expressing no design opinions of its own, but facilitates a design charrette process to incorporate all opinions.
In the last few months Vanessa has had the opportunity of sharing the Look! St Albans story with others in the country. Before Christmas Vanessa was given the opportunity to share what we have been up to in St Albans with Civic Voice regional forum in Birmingham. Most recently at The Historic Towns and Villages Forum ‘Supporting Historic High Streets: The Ingredients for Success in the 21st Century - Part 2’ held at Kellogg College, Oxford. http://www.htvf.org/News/
On both occasions Vanessa said “I was told what you are doing in St Albans is inspiring! I’m pretty pleased to say I have my feet firmly on the ground and realised it is not me they are talking about” said Vanessa “but it is the people who all contribute to what Look! St Albans is and what it has achieved that is inspiring!”
Vanessa continues to be asked to share our achievements. If you haven’t taken part yet do consider joining the continuing journey of Look! St Albans.
Now the worst of the weather is behind us Morgan Sindall have been cracking on making our concept plan a reality! Paul Barrett site manager, apart from taken us around on our recent site visit he has been sending Look! update photos on the progress. Look! has some further site visits planned mostly for those who have taken part in our two design charrettes. Please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to take part in a site visit. If we have some places available we will try to accommodate.
We are extremely grateful to Paul and the Morgan Sindall team in taking the time and allowing us to visit the site. At all times we must remember this is a construction site and any site visit booked may be subject to cancelation due to work on site.
The proceeds from the Oak Tree Gardens development will be going to the St Albans New Museum and Gallery project. Team Look! are delighted to have played their part in this most exciting project due to open soon.
It was agreed by all who took part in our first site visit that the development already felt ‘homely’ and we sincerely hope everyone who moves in to these new homes will appreciate the development as much as those who helped shape it.
Currently Tem Look! consists of people within the city and district who care passionately about the future of our city centre, we know there are more people out there just like us! Many are parents of tiny tots to teenagers and beyond who want to leave a beautiful legacy to their children and St Albans. Many hands make light work.
We don't have membership fees.
If you think you can give up to four hours of your time a month we would love to have you on board. We don’t have loads of committee meetings we like doing things and sharing. Please get in touch through email@example.com
Look! St Albans Our Community Voice on Design’ is a unique inclusive community group that actively promotes community engagement on significant developments in central St Albans. We aim to take a collaborative approach to leave a legacy for the future that residents and developers can all be proud of. Look! St Albans remains impartial, expressing no design opinions of its own, but facilitates a design charrette process to incorporate all opinions. We aim to learn and share together about ‘Placemaking’ in a convivial atmosphere.
Ever wanted to visit the BRE Innovation Park and never got around to it? Here is an opportunity as part of Look! St Albans collaboration for Sustainable St Albans week.
The BRE Watford Innovation Park (iPark) https://bregroup.com/ipark/ is the flagship of an international network of parks testing, evaluating and showcasing emerging trends in built environment design and development. Launched in 2005, the iPark provides visitors an opportunity to explore full-scale buildings demonstrating the latest thinking in sustainable construction and home design. Open to the public all year, however this session will provide visitors a deeper industry insight shared by the Director of the Watford iPark John O’Brian. Furthermore Look! St Albans will be explaining the benefits of community and landscape led design, drawing on examples tested within the iPark and those being applied in central St Albans through Look! St Albans two design charrettes.
This is an opportunity for anyone interested in sustainable design and construction, or just generally in the future of new homes.
In the event of inclement weather bring a raincoat/umbrella as we move through the park and visit the demonstration homes. It will be worth it!
Please book here https://bregroup.com/ipark/contact-us/ via email firstname.lastname@example.org Or through https://www.bre.co.uk/eventdetails.jsp?id=15863
Below is a poster to download to be displayed in a suitable place should you have one.
Look! St Albans grateful for Locality Budget Funding Grant of £500 from County Councillor Charlotte Hogg
As Team Look! are always searching for means to fund our day to day work including ‘learning and sharing', together with standing ready to host our next design charrette. We are always grateful when a local county councillor makes such a grant to us. Should you wish to help us in our work please consider a donation via PayPal link to be found on https://www.lookstalbans.org/ or email us on email@example.com to find out how to donate by other means.
Our Chair Vanessa attended the first seminar of the University of Hertfordshire Sustainable Communities seminar in the 2018 series. It was the launch of ‘Making Space For Food In Hatfield’ a presentation and discussion with report by co-author Dr Susan Parham. The illustrated talk explored the idea that how we design and plan our towns might be making us fat (creating so-called ‘obesegenic' environments). It looked at how ‘retrofitting’ more food-centred space could respond to that challenge.
The focus is on the New Town of Hatfield where the research was undertaken and shows a series of possible design scenarios along the food chain. These range from urban agriculture opportunities to revived allotments; from edible ‘food ways’ to a productive business park and more.
As our Civic Centre Opportunity Site design charrette in no small measure looked to create a landscape-led healthy city centre environment, perhaps using roof gardens and community gardens amongst other landscape measures, Team Look! thought this an excellent opportunity to gain ideas from Dr Parham’s work in Hartfield. We were not disappointed here is a link to her report https://www.herts.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/154185/Food-in-Hatfield-low-res.pdf
Welcome to the official Look! St Albans News/Events page. This page will be regularly updated in relation with upcoming developments etc.