St Albans Review of the Year: March

First published in News St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Angry residents began a battle with Hertfordshire County Council in March when a proposal to cut down trees planted by the community were unveiled.

Birklands Meadow, which is set back off London Road, also known as Birklands playing field, was acquired many years ago by the county council for educational use. The site has a history of community involvement, with residents helping to maintain it.

Following residents’ campaign the plans to chop down trees in the centre of the meadow were postponed and a consultation was set up.

The ambitious Butterfly World project suffered yet another financial setback delaying the opening of its main attraction until 2013.

Two years ago, the Review revealed how a £14 million funding gap was contributing to a timetable that was slipping.

It was forecast the final phase, which consists of the giant dome, would be complete by the end of 2011.

However leaders of the £27 million project, founded by butterfly fanatic Clive Farrell, are still in the process of securing cash to start construction of the centrepiece – which will include an artificial rainforest, 10,000 butterflies, a variety of hummingbirds and many other creatures. This is expected to take nine months to a year to finish.

Remaining “optimistic”, spokeswoman Emma Wheeler, who refused to reveal how much money is still needed to complete the project, said the economic downturn had contributed to the delay in obtaining the necessary financial backing.

She added: “The completion of the Biome has been delayed and it’s really down to the economic crisis. Finding the funding to build the dome has been difficult and we have reworked the budget to a lower budget.

The project is due to be completed in 2013.

Developers behind a multi-million pound scheme to build a four-star hotel on the Green Belt in Chiswell Green were also left disappointed when their proposal was thrown out by politicians.

St Albans District Council’s planning referrals committee met to discuss proposals to develop land off the A405 North Orbital Road. 

Councillors approved altered plans for the site later in the year.

Members of a community yoga class were furious after being kicked out off a hall to make way for a youth group.

On a more positive note, it was announced that the Olympic Torch would be passing through St Albans and preparations began on how to welcome to iconic flame to the city.

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