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Benoy's St Albans designs face shock rival bid

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Commercial giant Benoy is coming under increasing pressure to drop its 'monstrous' plans for a key site in St Albans, and is now facing a shock rival bid for the plot.

In a surprise move this week, the city's Civic Society unveiled its own low-rise proposals for the Bricket Road, designed by Cezary Bednarski in the hope of swaying public opinion against Benoy's 12-storey scheme.

Benoy's plans (pictured) - which include a seven-screen cinema, an underground car park and more than 170 flats - have come in for heavy criticism and have already been sent back to the drawing board once.

Among the fears raised by Civic Society members is that the scheme will ruin the skyline of the historic Hertfordshire town and will overdevelop the site - currently a council-owned car park.

The rival Bednarski design - backed by James Hannaway, owner of the acclaimed Rex Cinema in Berkhamsted - is much smaller in scale and will only have two cinema screens.

At three storeys, it is also hoped the scheme would be 'cheaper and more in keeping with their surroundings.'

The Civic Society's designs will have to defeat the Henry Davidson-backed Benoy plans, which go before the council's planning committee next month.

by Richard Waite

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