Look!St.Albans are are a group dedicated to giving the community a voice on design – and in September last year they ran a 3 day charrette, an event that we were all invited to looking at what might replace the area of the city centre near the Civic Centre that’s up for redevelopment.
Vanessa Gregory of Look! St.Albans explained on this week’s show how delighted she was with the charrette – with the numbers of people who gave up their time, with the creative atmosphere and with the sense of purpose and achievement. Professionals were in attendance as well as the public to ensure that all ideas were practical and took into account the requirements of the site owners and the restraints of the site.
The charrette resulted in 2 concept plans, both named after St.Albans own gardening enthusiast, Samuel Ryder, and both embodying his enthusiasm for trees and plants. As well as the Alban Arena undergoing modernization and a new health centre, the library will move over from the Maltings, there’ll be housing units and flexible ground floor units that can be used for offices, shops, or whatever is required at the time. As far as possible the idea is that the development will be able to evolve as needs change over time so that it will remain useful and relevant for as long as possible.
Whilst there are many stages to go through before any of the ideas coming out of the charrette become bricks and concrete, the process has been started with the ideas of the people of St.Albans.
Not only has the charrette, initiated and run as it was by a group of members of the public, attracted the attentions of the national planning press, but its unique nature has been recognised with a place in the list of finalists for this year’s RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence.
Find out more about Look! St.Albans, the charrette and their other work on their website.