The last time St Albans had a City Centre Vision was a draft back in 2009. Much has happened since then: high streets retailers have suffered from the growth of internet shopping and alterations in consumer spending; climate change and environmental pollution have created environmental concerns requiring green and sustainable solutions. To create a City Centre of the future St Albans residents can enjoy, your input is needed today.
In June this year, St Albans Business Improvement District (BID) worked in partnership with St Albans District Council on a webinar conference, which was organised and chaired by Tim Boatswain, the then Chair of the Civic Society. The conference looked at the way city centres are changing and how St Albans urgently needs a new vision to respond to a different environment.
Tim, now Chair of the BID’s City Centre Vision Steering Group says:
“City centres are not only crucial to the economic success of places, providing accommodation for 8% of businesses and 14 per cent of jobs, there are residents who also live there, and city centres are also social and cultural hubs for the whole community. It is crucially important that we reshape and invest in our city centre to ensure St Albans has a vibrant and attractive future.”
Shaping the future of St Albans City Centre
So who decides what St Albans should like in the future, ensuring all its citizens who live and work in the city centre have their say, you ask? Tim says that the BID has proposed that we create a City Centre Vision that has a statutory status, under the Localism Act 2011, where there is no town or parish council there is a requirement to form a Neighbourhood Forum, which can then draft a Neighbourhood Plan.”
Mandy McNeil, Vice-Chair of the BID says, “It’s been amazing to see how many residents, from cyclists to runners, to families, both young and old, are drawn to the city centre during COVID19. It’s clear they are passionate about their city centre, want to support local businesses and many want to see things like a Cathedral Quarter, creative/vibrant and flexible workspaces, activities for young adults and affordable incubator retail, become a reality.”
Sarah Gillow, Co Vice-Chair and a local business owner of almost 30 years says “We need a city centre vision which includes planning protections that consider our precious environment, while showcasing the vibrancy and heritage of St Albans, to encourage people to live, work and visit our city.” “Tim (supported by Vanessa Sharp) is doing an incredible job in chairing this city centre vision initiative. A Neighbourhood Forum will empower city centre residents and businesses, including our small independent businesses with a voice in planning what their neighbourhood will look in the future”.
While Council cannot be involved in a Neighbourhood Forum or Plan, this initiative is something that Cllr Robert Donald, the Portfolio Holder for Commercial Development and Wellbeing sees as a positive step. Robert says “I strongly support the concept of a vision overview for the city centre and to understand what the community would like to see there for the next 50 years plus. A Neighbourhood Plan will help to inform the development strategy for the city, helping to enable the Council to place shape to futureproof our local economy, including commercial use and retailing.”
St Albans City Centre is home to many popular independents
Under the guidance of BID, Tim and BID business liaison manager, Vanessa Sharp, have organised a second open webinar for 8th December at 6 pm to examine how to take St Albans City Centre Vision forward.
One of the participants in June webinar, James Hampton (who had previously taken part in the BBC Panorama TV programme How to Save the High Street) of New Makers Bureau (a London-based Architectural Practice, known for environmentally and socially conscious buildings) has been funded by the BID to produce scoping exercise for the City Centre Vision. He will be the first speaker at the webinar when he will present St Albans City Centre Vision Initial Ideas.
The second speaker at the webinar will be David Carlisle, an Associate Director of AECOM (an international planning and infrastructure company with an office in St Albans), which is contracted to deliver planning services through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to Locality (a nationwide network of community organisations); David will talk about Processes for Establishing a Neighbourhood Forum leading to a Neighbourhood Plan.
The last speaker is Dr Ros Rivas, besides having a distinguished career in industry, has recently been appointed by the Government as Chair of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, was educated in St Albans and led on the Eton and Eton Wick Neighbourhood Plan. She will describe her experiences of drafting a Neighbourhood Plan. These talks will be followed by a question and answer question session.
Join the discussion on St Albans City Centre
If you would like to join this webinar on 8th December, 6 pm, please click on the link:
Meeting ID: 499 675 4679 | Passcode: 682170
Wycombe Swan Summer Youth Project is back for 2022
Returning for the first time since 2019, this year sees the return of Wycombe Swan’s Summer Youth Project. Running since 1993, numerous participants have gone on to have successful careers both on and off stage. Join us on our next adventure! Build confidence, develop skills, have fun, and make long-lasting friendships.
About Wycombe Swan Summer Youth Project (SYP)
Over the two-week project, Wycombe Swan comes alive to the sights and sounds of 150 young people doing everything they can to put on a full-scale musical in time for curtain up!
Participants have the option of taking to the stage as a performer, or to make magic happen as part of the Technical Team.
All performances take place on our main stage in the 1,000 seated Wycombe Swan Theatre.
Only those wishing to have a principal/speaking role or be a dance captain need to audition.
Big Fish The Show
This year, the show is BIG FISH. Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton.
AUDITIONS (FOR THOSE WISHING TO HAVE A SPEAKING ROLE): Sunday 22 May
DATES: Mon 15 to Sunday 28 August
AGES: 9-21 (performers). 14-21 (technical team)
It is our wish that no young person misses out due to financial constraints. For this reason, we offer bursaries of up to 100% so that anybody can take part.
TO APPLY, AND FOR MORE INFO: Visit https://wycombeswan.co.uk/Online/summerproject
APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday 13 May
The Chequers in Woolmer Green reopens after refurbishment
Wells & Co’s Hertfordshire based pub, The Chequers, is opening its doors after an extensive refurbishment. Completed works include an entirely refreshed bar and dining area, redecorated throughout to create a modern and chic look and feel to the pub located in the civil parish village of Woolmer Green. The cosy interior boasts an intimate lounge area, large dining area and an extensive garden makeover inclusive of heated spaces and high table fire pits, perfect for those late-Summer evenings.
Upstairs has been reconfigured to make room for four en-suite bedrooms for guests to book, as well as a private dining room holding up to 20 people. The new dining room is perfect for all event needs, whether its a private party, private function or even to host a work meeting.
The updated food menu features seasonal and fresh dishes inclusive of much loved pub classics like fish and chips or the ever popular 21-day aged beef burger, where the team will also be donating 25p of every burger sold to local primary school St Michael’s. Aloingside the classics the full dining menu at The Chequers includes more indulgent dishes such as cajun sweet potato, okra, and black-eyed pea gumbo, wild porcini mushroom, truffle and ricotta filled mezzaluna pasta and new daily specials.
There is also a great new range of drinks behind the bar including a range of tasty Brewpoint beers brewed just down the road in Bedford, as well as a full wine and spirits list for guests to enjoy.
Greg Knox, General Manager for the Wells & Co. site said, “The Chequers has, quite simply put, been a transformational refurbishment. The pub is ready, our food is prepped, drinks will be flowing, and our team are on hand to welcome the people of Woolmer Green and beyond, back to their much-loved pub. I can’t wait to personally welcome everyone back.”
To book a room or table at The Chequers visit the website here: https://chequerswoolmergreen.co.uk/
Ware Festival’s Rock in the Priory line up has been confirmed
After a two year break, Rock in the Priory 2022 is back and will be at its usual location on the Priory Island on Sunday, 17th July.
Showcase auditions were held at Southern Maltings on the April 10th and helped determine the line-up for the main event. The organisers are grateful to all the musicians who came along to perform.
The high standard of performances made the selection process difficult. The seven bands and three acoustic acts who will be entertaining the crowds on July 17th are listed below.
Quivering Lip are a two-piece originals and cover band playing rock and brit pop anthems. Quivering Lip wrote and recorded their first 5 track album Generation Panic in 2018, following it up with a new release “Ashes” in April 2019.
Uptown Punk are a high energy, 5-piece pop/punk band, covering fan favourites from 90s to present. Their set is full of well known pop/punk tunes, with a bit of Rock thrown in. Artists covered include; Blink 182, Green Day, The Offspring, Foo Fighters, Sum 41 and many more.
Grace is a singer, pianist and songwriter based in Hertfordshire specialising in acoustic pop, golden oldies, jazz and much more. Take a moment to listen/watch her Thinking Out Loud cover.
Other artists performing at Ware Festival’s Rock in the Priory include Adam Fearn, Mr No Face, Back to the 50s, George Croucher, Junkyard Dolls, Second Bite, The Routine.
Ware Festival and Rock in the Priory
The last Rock in the Priory was held in 2019. This annual event is known for its excellent atmosphere and energy. It takes place in the unique setting of the Island bandstand, nestled within seven acres of picturesque riverside gardens of the 14th century Ware Priory building. Tickets in advance are £5 entry or a family ticket at £15 for two adults and up to four children. Further details about Ware Festival and Rock in the Priory can be found on rockinthepriory.co.uk