Trustee landowners, council officers, the team putting together the planning application on behalf of the landowners, residents’ and members from the business community came together and worked together. Thus proving shaping a planning application for a significant and sensitive site within the central conservation area of St Albans need not be a battleground, but a shared endeavour to create a proud legacy for future Albanians.
Look! St Albans was immensely delighted that our day-long workshop was begun by an encouraging short address by The Right Worshipful the Mayor of St Albans City and District Councillor Geoff Harrison who stressed how much we all valued this site. A historical perspective of the site was given by Kate Morris, former Mayor, former planning councillor and local historian. A vision for MoStA and site was given by Councillor Daly, Leader of the Council. Councillor Annie Brewster, Trustee St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust gave a presentation on the plans for our New Museum & Gallery in our Old Town Hall. Photographs taken by members of St Peter’s Church from the Church Tower to help inform the setting of the site for design charrette proved immensely useful as did Look! St Albans draft design codes when we rolled up our sleeves and got down to work.
A massive commitment was given by the forty-seven people who attended one or more session of the externally independently facilitated design charrette, contributing in total an enormous 329 hours’ of work, an average of seven hours per person. Four different design concepts were developed and voted upon on the report back session, with a clear winner Design Concept 1: Oak Tree Gardens. With the possibility of reinstating original roof lights of the existing 1913 building and consideration to continuing roof lights in 1898 part of the building. Truly proving we can be inspired by the past to picture the future.
“Emails have already started to flow in from the participants although we will be sending out a questionnaire to help us learn for the future” said Vanessa Gregory Chairman of Look! St Albans. A couple of comments so far ‘I had wondered whether there might be a tension between 'developer' and 'resident' I loved how everyone worked together’! and ‘I feel probably a bit too committed, I want to do the detailed design of the insides too.’
Vanessa continued “I feel very proud to have taken part in the first community led site specific design charrette and the way ‘Team Look! worked their socks off to host the event. I wish I could have bottled the atmosphere of enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to hear and respect others views in such a positive and creative manner. The viability of the design concepts were not far from people’s minds and discussed freely, so refreshing! The workshop on the Saturday overrun by an hour with people nipping out to complete a weekend chore but retuning not wishing to miss out!
A huge thanks goes to Debbi White officer acting for the Trustee landowners, the Museum team who literally moved mountains to help us host the opening and closing events and of course our grateful thanks to the team of external independent facilitators lead by Angela Koch of ImaginePlaces.
In view of summarising the results of three elements of the design charrette there is naturally a degree of duplication within the conclusions report, but these are necessary to provide the narrative. A summary of the outcome is provided at the beginning of the document.
Appropriately as this was an independently facilitated process neither the landowners nor host Look! St Albans have been able to alter any content from the design charrette. The next stage for Look! St Albans is to write a letter of recommendation supporting the outcome of the design charrette to the local planning authority. The conclusions can be downloaded below.