History of Aboyne Residents Association
The ARA has existed since the late 1980s. One long-standing member from the early days is retired ARA secretary Marjorie Byers. This is Marjorie’s recall of the history of the organisation, and the area, up until very recently.
In 1975, this area was “deblighted” and saved from mass demolition under a 1960’s proposal to build a four-lane highway from Folly Lane to the Russell Avenue car park. Renovation of the run-down housing followed, and gradually the area was repopulated.
Then, in 1988 the District Council decided to construct what is now the Drovers Way section of the multi-storey car park on the open space that was formerly the cattle market. Traffic in the area was already a problem because of the many heavy lorries servicing the St Peters Street stores. Drovers Way ended at Adelaide Street, with no through access to Catherine Street, so the main vehicular access, in and out, was by Britton Avenue into Verulam Road. Our current Aboyne Residents Association resulted from a protest meeting about local traffic conditions and the need to improve them.
Once established, there was much for the ARA to do. Here are just some of their achievements:
Introduction of ban on vehicles over 7.5t in area (except Britton Avenue) after the opening of Drovers Way onto Catherine Street
Transportation plan involving a new road through Gombards and Gombards Alley to connect Catherine Street with Verulam Road rejected
Council approval of Controlled Parking Schemes, with Zone A marked out in consultation with ARA, to start in 1999
Yet another attempt to connect Gombards with Verulam Road rejected by the Council
Proposal to re-locate Aboyne Lodge School to Victoria Playing Field, thus releasing the school site for commercial redevelopment, rejected by the Council (by one vote!)
Formation of The Friends of Victoria Playing Field through joint action on the part of ARA and Verulam Road Residents Association.
In June 2012, the ARA was somewhat in the doldrums. An appeal was sent out for others to step in. The current committee responded to this and in the course of 2013 the ARA was reconstituted. In the preceding few years, the change in national government resulted in a new approach to local issues, with the Communities and Local Government Act (2012) - the Localism Act - aimed at neighbourhood groups co-operating with local authorities in decision making on matters which affect many aspects of municipal life, especially planning. The need for a thriving RA was more important than ever.
We inherited the formidable reputation the previous team had established - many of whom still live in the area and have supported and aided our recent endeavours. We can only echo the sentiments of everyone who has served the ARA and loves this area; that, living in the City Centre, where there will always be development issues, it is essential that residents collectively are able to contribute to, and if necessary challenge, any proposals affecting not just our area but our much cherished way of life.