New traffic flow plans will make historical area 'a complete disaster' (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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New traffic flow plans will make St Albans' historical area 'a complete disaster', says Abbey Precincts Residents Association
Residents fear plans to change the traffic flow in an area described as the "jewel in St Albans civic crown" will cause damage to historical buildings.
The Abbey Precincts Residents Association have formed recently after years of complaints about congestion, pollution and damage in the Romeland area because of large coaches transporting children to and from nearby St Albans School.
Following complaints, St Albans District Council has put in proposals to lessen disruption for residents in Fishpool Street, College Street and George Street.
However a one-way route for school coaches requiring them to access the Romeland triangle from George Street and exit at the Fishpool Street end of the triangle, while other road users should exit and enter the area via George Street, have been met with disapproval.
Plans also include the removal of eight parking bays outside the cottages nearest St Albans Abbey and two on Romeland Hill to allow Romeland Gardens, which is currently one way, to become a two-way road to enable coaches to turn right up George Street.
Abbeymill Lane resident, John Hedges blasted the "ludicrous" plans.
Mr Hedges said: "We are completely dismayed by the chaos. This will completely change the tranquil nature of that spot.
"The council is taking the problems from Fishpool Street and dumping the problem on Romeland. They are concentrating the problem instead of addressing it.
"For years now it has been dangerous for pedestrians in Romeland because the streets are very narrow and cars and coaches are often parked on the curbs. We are completely dismayed by the chaos.
"The coaches are far too big and there is far too many."
These plans were trialled out for one day which Mr Hedges described as "artificial".
He said: "These proposals were trialed during exam time at the school, when the area wasn’t as busy, which is bizarre.
"This will be a complete disaster."
The Abbey Mill Lane school busses currently drop off and collect 530 pupils in Romeland Hill to continue down Fishpool Street, where they are transported from 17 neighbouring towns.
Gillian Field, who has lived in her George Street home for 20 years, said she is appalled. She said: "We have suffered a great deal of nuisance, exhaust, pollution, congestion over many years.
"The road surfaces are absolutely dreadful and the coaches don’t turn off their engines and rumble away, as my windows rattle in their frames.
"I live in a listed building, so there is not much I can do about it."
"The medieval road system is not geared up for this size and volume. It is not just people who live in this area there is an exclusion to everyone who loves St Albans and its heritage.
"This area should be the jewel in St Albans civic crown. We are surrounded by a medieval area and they seem to be sacrificing the heritage for the school."
In its first residents’ meeting on Monday, September 9 Abbey Precincts discussed alternative plans including school children being dropped off at the car park in Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre.
Ms Field added: "They are going to allow the school to have exclusive use of a public highway.
"There doesn’t seem to be any respect or integrity for the historic importance of this area. There seems to be a distinct amount of bending over backwards for school.
"Everyone is appalled and feels enough is enough. "
Charles Turner, legal services manager of legal, democratic and regulatory services for the council, said the green triangle at Romeland would not be affected by the proposed scheme.
He said: "The council is working with Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) to assess ways to improve traffic flow and maximise pedestrian safety in Romeland, St Albans. This project is being led by the District Council. It is being developed in response to concerns raised by residents about obstructions to parking and pedestrians crossing the road caused by coaches dropping off and collecting school children.
"We have applied to HCC for permission to operate an extended trial of the scheme so that it can be assessed and tested over a six to 18 month period.
"The views of residents, local councillors and local organisations will be considered before any final decision about the scheme is made. Any impact of the scheme on parking will be offset by the provision of parking bays for residents in the vicinity".
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