Minutes of the meeting on 27 February 2024


The Residents’ Association for Sopwell Lane, Albert Street, Pageant Road, Hart Road,
The Ryder Seed Mews Estate, Saracens Head Yard, Pearce’s Walk and Keyfield Terrace



Notes of SAPHRA meeting held on Tuesday 27 February 2024 at 8pm
at the White Hart Hotel, Holywell Hill, St Albans


Present:    Officials:  Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Minutes Secretary


Plus:         Cllr Juliet Voisey
2 residents of Sopwell Lane,
2 residents of Albert Street
1 resident of Pageant Road,
2 residents of Hart Road,


Apologies for absence: Cllrs Jacqui Taylor and Chris White, 3 residents


The main subjects discussed at the meeting were:


  1. Finances and banking arrangements:
    After paying £16.00 for the printing of SAPHRA greeting cards our current balance with Metro Bank is £387.83.


  1. Update on District Council consultation on Local Plan:
    Due to the absence of Cllrs Jacqui Taylor and Chris White at our meeting, we were unable to get an update on this. However, Chris Briggs (senior officer responsible for the Local Plan) had advised the recent CNC meeting that there had been many responses to the Section 18 consultation and officers were working through the data.



  1. Update on parking and pinch point in Sopwell Lane:
    Cllr Jacqui Taylor had advised by email that jury service and illness had delayed the preparation of a proposal for changing the arrangements for parking Zones M and N. This is frustrating but lack of money precludes hiring more people to fill the gaps.


  1. Update on Central Combined Resident’s Associations:      
    The last meeting was 20 February 2024. Subjects discussed were:

The informal meeting between CCRA and SADC on 24 January 2024. Unfortunately, we could not discuss the three topics (Travel & Movement, City Centre Vision, and issues with paying for parking online) that we really wanted to cover.

CNC meeting February 1st, 2024 (see below)

Topics for CNC meeting March13 2024 (which has now been cancelled)

Work of the CCRA Travel & Movement Group (High Level Vision prepared for stakeholders)

High Street Recovery trial / George Street closure at weekends / one way traffic

Attempts to build on green spaces in Verulam Estate

Use of Abbey Orchard for University graduation events

Cottonmill Centre / Cycle Hub update (Everyone Active have backed away)



  1. Update on City Neighbourhoods Committee (CNC):
    The City Neighbourhoods Committee met on 1 February 2024.
    The topics discussed were:
    CNC’s share of SADC budget which was agreed
    The (inflation linked) increase in Allotment fees which was agreed
    Tree strategy
    Local Plan update by Chris Briggs

The CNC meeting proposed for 13 March 2024 is now cancelled due to lack of topics for discussion. NB. Items we had asked to be discussed could not be added to the agenda due to lack of officer time to prepare.



  1. The green oasis in Sopwell Lane:    
    Cathy thanked Cllr Juliet Voisey for donating a large bag of grass seed to SAPHRA for the green oasis. There will be a gardening day at the green oasis on Saturday 30 March 2024 at 11am. The plan is to fork over the entire lawn area in preparation to sow grass seed. Any holes will be filled in with topsoil and the ground made as even as possible. Everybody is welcome to come along with a large gardening fork and gloves. In the past week a new Field Maple tree has been planted in the centre of the site, but no confirmation has been given as to who planted it. Cllr Voisey will make enquiries.
    Wooden posts are due to be installed on the site soon once calculations have been made.
    Roger has now received a quote from Fonteyne Signs for two A1 size lectern signs on powder coated metal posts. SAPHRA will provide the artwork ready for printing. The meeting agreed that SAPHRA would apply for funds from the CNC budget to cover the cost..



  1. SAPHRA’s Spring get-together:
    The event will be held on 21 April 2024. SAPHRA will attempt to make a booking at The Hare and Hounds pub. We will distribute an invitation to all households nearer the date of the event.



  1. Next meeting:

Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday 30 April 2024 at 8pm in the first-floor meeting room (Resident’s Lounge) in The White Hart Hotel, 23-25 Holywell Hill.



  1. Any Other Business:
  • Solar Panel Applications:
    Roger is now part of a group that is working with SADC officers to try to formulate guidelines for solar panels in Article 4 streets.
    A resident of Sopwell Lane has applied for permission for roof-mounted solar panels to be fitted on a south-facing roof (that faces the street). They have been advised that it will be 18 weeks before they can expect a decision. This delay is unacceptable (and is an example of the issues that have caused the Secretary of State to threaten to take over planning decisions for St Albans).


  • Lights always on in car park:
    Powerful floodlights above the charging point in the London Road Car Park (near Hart Road) are on 24 hours every day, which is wasteful of energy.


  • Albert Street pavements:
    The pavement by Abbey Court has been damaged by builder’s vehicles and the granite sets at the entrance to the Tapestry by Hilton hotel car park have been broken / made loose.


  • The “Café Rouge” building:
    This building, formerly the Ryder Seed Hall, has been dark (untenanted) for some time, is looking neglected and is in danger of decay. We understand that a potential tenant walked away because a decision on listed building consent for necessary repairs had taken too long to obtain (and is still awaited).
  • Professor Tim Boatswain, our Treasurer, will be taking part in a re-enactment of the enquiry into the 1851 rigged by-election in St Albans. He will be acting the part of the Prime Minister, the Earl of Derby, in the historical courtroom at the Town Hall, where the Parliamentary Commission heard evidence at the time. This event will take place on 26 March 2024 at 7.00pm. Tickets will be going on sale soon.

On the same day an information board will be installed near to, and about, the mural in Sovereign Way that references the same election.


  • Blue Plaques St Albans have approval to place a plaque outside no.40 Holywell Hill, in honour of Margaret Wix, the first female Mayor of St Albans.



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