Councillors have approved a corporate plan for Lib Dem-led St Albans City and District Council that will help tackle the climate emergency and a shortage of social housing.
Improving community facilities and making the council more business friendly are the other main goals of the plan that covers the years to 2025.
A series of priority projects and targets for the coming year was also agreed by a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, 26 February.
And councillors adopted a budget that includes a 2.8% increase in the district’s share of council tax for 2020-21.
Initiatives to improve the environment
Among the initiatives the council is pledged to undertake in the next financial year to improve the environment are:
- Continuing with the programme to reduce CO2 emissions from council houses and lower energy bills by installing 300 more efficient boilers, improving windows and doors at 100 properties and installing 40 new bathrooms and kitchens.
- Progressing the project to revitalise the River Ver and Verulamium Park lakes to enhance water quality and the surrounding habitat.
- Developing a Climate Crisis Action Plan with proposals for further initiatives, such as the encouragement of green transport together with funding plans.
The priority projects for increasing the quantity and quality of social housing over the next year are:
- Delivering four sheltered housing redevelopments to create more than 100 new apartments, including flexi-care flats as well as social rent and shared ownership apartments.
- Progressing the redevelopment of the site of the former police station and NHS clinic, known as the City Centre Opportunity Site South, to create new affordable housing and commercial space.
- Moving forward with the redevelopment of Ridgeview in London Colney to create private-rent flats as well as new accommodation for people on the social housing register who are waiting for a permanent home.
To enhance community facilities, major initiatives for the coming year include:
- Delivering new Harpenden leisure and cultural centres that include an enhanced swimming pool, improved gym, multi-sports hall, 511-seat theatre and exhibition space.
- Redeveloping the Marlborough Pavilion in St Albans to create new facilities, including a cycle hub, additional hall space, café and improved BMX track.
- Forging ahead with new play areas for Verulamium and Clarence parks.
To ensure the council is more responsive to the needs of business, the priority projects and targets include:
- Producing an enhanced programme of community-focused events for the city centre’s festive season.
- Working with partners to deliver an attractive programme for Herts Year of Culture.
- Reviewing the marketing of the district’s cultural assets well as the management of its street scene and visitor destination role.
Councillor Chris White, council leader and portfolio holder for climate and environment, commented:
“I’m delighted that councillors have decided to adopt both our corporate plan and budget.
“We’re now able to enact a plan that has the potential to bring about real change that will greatly improve the lives of the district’s residents with cleaner air, more much-needed social housing and better community facilities.
“We are committed to carrying out a series of actions that will achieve our objectives, including pressing ahead with the project to revitalise the River Ver and delivering scores of social housing properties.
Pledge to monitor performance
“To ensure we make real progress, we are also pledged to continually monitor our performance so we make real, substantial progress in achieving our goals
“I’m sure our residents, businesses and community groups will get behind our efforts to make our City and District an even more vibrant, healthy and prosperous place to live and work.
“We need their help to do things like increase the recycling rate and decide on the best designs for CCOS South, and I am sure we will get their support.”
The corporate plan and budget, along with other papers from the full council meeting, can be viewed at: https://stalbans.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=184&MId=9788
The plan is subject to minor changes that will be reported to the full council meeting in May.