High rise living plan gets frosty reception

Illumina - proposed tower block development for London Road, Hemel Hempstead.
Illumina - proposed tower block development for London Road, Hemel Hempstead.

Another tower block development is being mooted by house builders for Hemel Hempstead but it is not getting a friendly reception from potential neighbours.

Corona Properties, which just months ago secured outline planning permission for a 16-storey high rise block just off the A41, has now floated the idea of a ‘vertical village’ in nearby London Road.

Gavin Wignall, whose Standring Rise home would back on to the mammoth tower, said: “Hemel has the Kodak building but it is not known for its tower blocks. It’s a style of building that would be more appropriate for central London.

“Boxmoor has a lot of history and heritage. There are a lot of character buildings in the area and obviously we have the beautiful moor, so it doesn’t seem in keeping.”

The tower block plan was put on public display last Friday, but it was a surprise to many householders who say they were not told about it.

There were reports of emotions running high at the event, with some objectors being told to leave the public gathering.

Gavin said: “The consultation was very frosty. A number of people got chucked out. I don’t think they were prepared for the response.

“Obviously people were highly emotional.”

A campaign group has been set up via Facebook and a door-to-door leaflet and petition drive is being mounted.

Hemel Hempstead has long been home to the landmark former Kodak building, which was converted into apartments after the technology firm vacated.

It is set to be joined by a 16 storey high rise called The Beacon, containing up to 208 flats, due to be built next to Aldi just off the A41. Major outline planning permission was granted by Dacorum Borough Council in June.

Now a third tower block called Illumina is in the pipeline, which if given the go ahead, would be situated just down the road.

Gavin said: “A big concern is traffic because London Road is already so busy in the mornings. It’s already pretty bad so imagine having a huge tower block with another 200 cars coming out of it.

“We are all concerned about places for schools. Most of the schools are already struggling.

“There are concerns around the hospital and the fact that we already have a limited facility and we have to rely on Watford.

“A number of people have also talked about crime and its association with tower blocks.”

Campaigners are making contact with councillors and Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning.

Box Moor Trust general manager Ian Richardson said it is ‘very early days’ but added that the trust will be keeping a close eye on the proposal and any impact it might have on the nearby moor. Nor formal planning application has yet been submitted to Dacorum Borough Council.

Search ‘Keep Boxmoor Beautiful’ on Facebook.