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Design chosen for major City Centre site

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A new design for a major St Albans City Centre development has been chosen after the public were asked for their views.

Three designs were put forward by architects for the area near the Alban Arena on the site of a former police station and NHS clinic.

Businesses, residents and other organisations were invited to comment on the concepts and state their preference in an online survey.

After analysing the feedback, Design Number Two by London-based architectural firm Space & Place has been chosen.

Of those who responded to the survey, 57% indicated it was their favoured option –significantly more than either of the other two options.

The chosen design includes a landmark commercial building on the most prominent corner of the site, the junction of Victoria Street and Bricket Road.

It will have a curved, glazed façade and be separated by lush green walls from an adjacent residential block.

St Albans City and District Council is carrying out the £60 million development of the area known as the City Centre Opportunity Site South (CCOS South).

The decision to adopt the winning design is subject to the approval of the Council’s Cabinet at a meeting due to be held online on Thursday 23 April.

Councillor Robert Donald, Portfolio Holder for Commercial and Development, said:

I’m delighted to announce the design that has clearly won the backing of our residents in the extensive public engagements that we held. It also successfully met the Council’s other development, environmental and sustainability evaluation criteria for the project.

We look forward to working with the winning architectural firm and warmly thank the others for contributing their ideas to what was an outstanding design contest. I have received several comments from the public that all three designs were a marked improvement on the original scheme.

CCOS South is right in the heart of our City and it is essential therefore that this new public realm development is both uplifting and of the highest quality architecturally. The winning architect has produced an inspiring concept that includes a landmark building that has the wow factor that many of us thought was missing in the previous design. When built, I believe this scheme will rapidly establish itself as a worthy addition to St. Albans’ heritage.

Planning permission for a three-block design was obtained in 2017 but the Council later decided that substantial improvements were required. A further planning application met with considerable public concern and was withdrawn in November 2019.

The three new designs were put on show at several events across the District last month and were also available to view on the Council’s website. An interactive presentation involving the architect of each design was screened on the website after a public meeting had to be cancelled because of the lockdown.

Included in the chosen design will be 33 affordable homes for rent, up from the 30 that were included in the original plans.

There will be 93 homes built - 60 for sale at market price and 33 for affordable housing – as well as 6,064 square metres of commercial space and 100 car parking spaces.

The next stage of the project will include finalising the detailed designs and submitting a revised planning application in the summer.

Councillor Donald added:

 There are a number of stages that we still have to complete before the next phase of construction work can begin on this ambitious project.

Amongst these will now be consideration of the long-term impact of the current coronavirus pandemic on future commercial, residential and retail markets and home-working. I can foresee the need for maximum design flexibility to meet changing market demands and new lifestyles.

Once these stages have been cleared, we will be delivering a first-class design that will feature one of the most eye-catching modern buildings in St Albans and we will be putting new life into this part of the City Centre for generations to come.

We will also be providing a substantial number of much-needed new homes for the District with 35% of these being at affordable rent levels. Additionally, we will be creating valuable business space that can help grow the local economy to the benefit of our residents and existing retailers.

This is one of the biggest developments the Council has ever undertaken and now, with the significant backing of the public, we can start to make a real success of building this exciting design for our City’s future prosperity and enjoyment. 

A summary of the online public survey comments about the architectural designs and  the Council’s evaluation criteria for assessing them is available here: www.stalbans.gov.uk/ccoss

Picture: the winning design.

Councillor contact:
Councillor Robert Donald, Portfolio Holder for Property, Commercial and Development for St Albans City and District Council: cllr.r.donald@stalbans.gov.uk01727 841647.

Contact for the media:
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer: 01727 819533john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk.