Local Developments

Jim Gowans, WHCA’s rep on the Conservation Advisory Group, assesses local developments….

The CAG to the City Council passed a resolution recently urging the City Council to save front gardens in conservation areas and throughout the City. The conversion of gardens to hard-standings for vehicles has already blighted streets such as Howard Rise whilst other parts of our area and the wider city are under continual threat. Civic Voice, the national charity, has recognised the loss of front gardens as a problem which is causing immense harm to the streetscape in every town and city nationwide. Whilst campaigns can highlight the issue, the framing of legislation specifically to protect front gardens as green spaces remains challenging.

Permission to convert the former ticket office to a Superdrug retail unit is likely to be granted soon. Whilst the refurbishment of the listed building is welcomed, it is no wonder there is so much talk of overcrowding by the railway companies. Drawing in more shoppers to jostle for space on the concourse with rail users is surely no way to run a railway. These same rail users already have to fight their way past the delivery vans which service the tatty stalls on the forecourt, so how much worse will the congestion become? And what future is there for the existing convenience stores in nearby streets. Surely it is better to disperse the queues of shoppers rather than concentrate them around railway platforms. On a slightly more encouraging note, an application to sell alcohol on the concourse has been withdrawn. Let’s hope the railway companies will take the opportunity to sober up.

The developers have sought to remove the condition requiring the planting of trees to lessen the impact of the added storey. The application has, however, been refused. We can now look forward to some greenery on this prominent corner of Buckingham Place and Compton Avenue.

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