Architect defends car park design

An architect has hit back after Hemel Hempstead's MP described a multi-story car park he designed as a 'pigsty'.

The NCP car park on the town's Hillfield Road hit the headlines after a failed bid to have it registered a listed building.

In 1958 when it was designed by Rex Stubbings it was the first free-standing multi-storey car park in Great Britain.

Today, however, many describe it as a smelly eyesore which is used by the homeless to bed-down.

But Mr Stubbings, now a consultant who lives in Leverstock Green, argues there is nothing wrong with the design and it is the poor maintenance which lets it down.

He said: "It still serves its purpose well and deserves some care and attention."

Dacorum Borough Council chiefs had applied to have the car park made a listed building partly because of the artwork on its side, which was designed by Rowland Emett OBE, the famous cartoonist behind the inventions in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

However, the move was rejected by English Heritage who said while it would be a shame to lose the artwork, it was not of sufficient quality to list as a protected building.

MP Mike Penning, who described the car park as a 'pigsty', said he stands by his previous comments made to The Gazette.

He added: "I have seen people using it as a public toilet and I totally agree it needs better maintenance but frankly, in my opinion, there are more worthy buildings in the town that should be listed."

The car park was Mr Stubbings' first project in Hemel Hempstead when he joined architects Fuller Hall and Foulsham and over the years he helped create buildings across the town including the former Kodak Tower, 400 homes in Grovehill, 25 per cent of the industrial estate and Atlas Copco.

As the town looks towards the major Waterhouse Square developers, Thornfield, have suggested the car park could be demolished and replaced with a cinema but Mr Stubbings argues it should be saved.

"It wouldn't take much to improve the car park. It needs better lighting, security and painting to brighten it up - it doesn't need to be knocked down and made into a cinema," he said.

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