Should we keep bungalows?

The past few weeks has seen a flurry of Planning Applications to Hertsmere to demolish bungalows across Radlett and replace them with large 5 or 6 bedroomed detached houses. In theory such proposals are against the planning regulations which seek to maintain a mix of housing types but Hertsmere’s Planning Department seems quite prepared to go against their own rules when they feel like it. I feel bungalows have a clear purpose in providing a local option for elderly long time residents who want to downsize into an easier to maintain property. At the same time this provides a family house for anotehr younger family to move into locally.

Here are some of the bungalows currently under threat:

59 Newberries AvenueDSCN1362 DSCN1366

What now for the Pavilion?

Aldenham Parish Council is consulting residents on the future of the Pavilion at Phillimore Recreation Grounds. Now that the new buildings for the grounds staff are up and running there is an opportunity to redevelop the old pavilion which is probably too small for most purposes.

If you would like to have your say, go to the Parish Council’s website and complete the survey.


School buses “consultation”

Hertfordshire County Council is “consulting” on proposals to commercialise or axe some school buses from next year (September 2012). This proposal has been widely trailed since last year when the Council decided to cut the numbers of people qualified for free transport to schools.

This directly affects students who live in Radlett as well as Shenley, Borehamwood and Elstree who attend secondary schools in Bushey, Watford and St Albans. All students in Radlett and Shenley have to travel some way to get to a secondary school as we do not have one locally (but see the Radlett Free School website which may lead to one being built!).

The most commonly expressed view is that parents recognise that they will have to pay more for school transport but they are horrified at the idea of the services being cut completely which will inevitably make the “school run” even worse as more people will have to resort to cars to get their children to and from school.

The “consultation” runs to 15 August and can be found here but you can be pretty sure the Council has already made their mind up on this and the buses will be cut next September…

Freight Terminal – no appeal against Judge’s decision

Secretary of State Eric Pickles has decided not to appeal against the High Court’s judgement that he should reconsider his refusal of planning permission for the Rail Freight Terminal on the old Radlett Air Field in Park Street. As a result, St Albans City & District Council have also decided against appealing.

This does NOT mean HelioSlough can now go ahead. But it does mean that Eric Pickles will need to reconsider the whole matter and issue a new decision on whether it should be granted planning permission or not. There is no indication how long this might take but probably a matter of weeks.

More details in St Albans Press Notice here

Radlett Station platform extensions

I am delighted to see that the work has begun on extending Platforms 1 and 2 at Radlett Station. This is part of the Thameslink programme (total cost £6 billion!) and will enable the new 12 car trains being built by Siemens to stop at Radlett.

My delight is particularly because I personally spent some 15 years making sure this would happen. The original Thameslink 2000 project, started in the early 1980s and due for completion by the year 2000, left Radlett out. Having noticed this I pursued the powers that be for literally years to find out why (there was no reason – I am still convinced it was an error which they simply refused to admit) and to put us into the programme. Finally the day came when I was summoned to meet the junior railway Minister and explained it to him and he winked and said he would “see what he would do”. Then, some months later Radlett suddenly appeared in the project plans…

Because trains will now be able to stop at Radlett this means that we will in future (from 2014/15) have a number of new destinations from here, including South Coast towns like Eastbourne. The original plans would have meant such services leaving St Albans and passing through Radlett without stopping until they reached Elstree!

Rail Freight Terminal decision shock

A judge has ruled in favour of HelioSlough’s application to overturn the Secretary of State’s rejection of the planning application to build a so-called “rail” freight terminal on the Radlett Airfield in Park Street. The Government has said they will appeal against this ruling but if this appeal is unsuccessful then HelioSlough will be able to purchase the land from Hertfordshire County Council and go ahead building five massive sheds on the site.

This would be a disaster for everyone living anywhere near the site, including residents of Radlett, Shenley and St Albans as well as the immediate neighbours in Park Street.

More details from the Herts Advertiser here

Radlett Post Office to close next year

It has apparently been “decided” (by whom exactly I am not clear) that Radlett’s Post Office sorting office will close sometime next year. This means that the Post Office counter and shop will also close as they cannot support the costs of the whole  building.

The implications of all this are considerable and I wonder if anyone has really thought them through in a coherent manner?

Firstly it means that all letters and parcels for residents of Radlett and the villages will be sorted in Borehamwood’s sorting office. They don’t have the room to do this (the Radlett sorting office has pigeon holes for each house) so they will only be partially sorted by rounds. Then our postmen and post women will have to drive or be driven to Borehamwood to collect their post and sort it themselves in the street perhaps?

Any parcels which cannot be delivered will be returned to Borehamwood for collection (although you will have to wait 48 hours before you can collect them). There is no parking outside or even near the Borehamwood sorting office – the nearest is in the Shopping Boulevard – so it will take a five mile round trip and a five to ten minute walk to get your parcels in future.

Has anyone calculated the extra environmental costs of this crazy decision – I suspect not.

And what of the general Post Office services themselves? The most likely result is that the Post Office Counter – and maybe the shop – will move to a shop unit somewhere in Watling Street. I would hope this would not under any circumstances be in either Budgens or Tescos as they do not have the room. But this relies on their being a suitable vacant shop unit available sometime next year at an affordable rent, which cannot be guaranteed at all.

The Post Office site is likely to be bought by the Red House to build the new and larger Surgery they have wanted to build for several years. While this will be welcomed by most people, the loss of the Post Office obviously will not. I wonder whether the Red House could incorporate a Post Office in their new building?

And finally, what about the existing Red House building? Is that likely to be retained as part of a new surgery complex or sold off to help fund the new one? I don’t know myself but no doubt details will emerge eventually!

Park Street Rail Freight Terminal

The Judicial Inquiry into the rejection of HelioSlough’s application build a giant Freight Terminal at Park Street should be completed today after three days of hearings. The issue is whether the Secretary of State had the power to turn down the recommendation of the Inspectors who said it should go ahead. The result of this Inquiry should be known within a few days.

If the Inquiry rules in favour of the Secretary of State it appears likely that the developers will make a third application to build this monstrosity. Under existing laws they can just keep  on doing this every two years but I wonder how long it will take for them to realise that absolutely no-one around here wants it?

Maybe the new Localism Bill will give us an extra tool to stop it…

Radlett Farmers’ Market

I was extremely disappointed that Hertsmere Borough Council has decided to drop the Radlett Farmers’ Market after the trial period. But not surprised. It was obvious from the first market that it was not being marketed properly and I – like several other people locally – discussed it with the organisers and the Council.

The main problem was that Hughmark, the company organising the market, are not local (they are based in Reading) so quite reasonably asked Hertsmere if they could put up banners and signs to advertise it. Hertsmere said they would need to apply for planning permission which would take eight weeks so, unsurprisingly, Hughmark didn’t bother and probably decided immediately the trail was going to fail. Before the final market I and others (including the Parish Council) offered to help put up banners but they didn’t take up our offer.

It’s time Hertsmere got real on this. There are innumerable banners placed all over the place in Watling Street by all sorts of people, including local drama, art and music societies and various businesses. They are normally put up a week or so before an event and then taken down again afterwards. And Hertsmere does nothing about them as their officials rarely venture into Radlett because, as I have found on a number of occasions, many of them do not even know Radlett is in Hertsmere. Which begs the question for another time – why are we part of Hertsmere anyway?

I note that the preferred bidder for running Aldenham Country Park has suggested running a Farmers’ Market there so maybe we will revert to a monthly market there in future. Or perhaps we might still get a Radlett Farmers’ Market, maybe in the service road in front of the shops this time to make it more visible?