‘12,000 new homes need to be built’ in St Albans district

Future expansion of St Albans is being discussed by the district council Future expansion of St Albans is being discussed by the district council

Monday, December 2, 2013
12:41 PM

Campaigners in St Albans fighting against major new housing developments, particularly on the Green Belt, have been dealt a blow after a report suggested close to 12,000 homes be built over the next two decades.

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The independent assessment described St Albans as a “high demand location” with a future housing need projected to require an additional 11,724 houses between 2011 and 2031. But that figure equates to 586 new homes a year, 226 more than the target set by St Albans district council.

However it is substantially less than the 688 per annum suggested in the Department for Communities and Local Government 2008 based projection figures.

The council commissioned the assessment to help guide its Stategic Local Plan, the planning blueprint which maps out future development in the district.

The appraisal, released last Friday and to be discussed by councillors tomorrow, found that St Albans’ housing market was – as described by estate agents – “complex”.

It said there was an “impact of large numbers of people moving in and out – effectively passing through – the housing market and more people moving into the area than out.”

Echoing comments in a recent Herts Advertiser story, the review said estate agents had reported a very strong market with high demand for properties, but too litle stock to meet increased need.

Estate agents interviewed by the council’s consultants, Housing Vision, for the assessment estimated a five to 10 per cent increase in house prices over the last 12 months.

The report added: “The rental market is also performing well; it is more stable than the sales market with a continuing healthy demand.”

It went on: “Most agents were unequivocal that the majority of demand for both purchase and rental housing is from London. Only one agent thought that demand was primarily from local people.”

Among its findings was that the district’s population was projected to increase by 26,000 (18.8 per cent) between 2011 – when the last census was taken – and 2031.

And despite the push by residents to expand and add additional bedrooms, the report warns there is likely to be just a seven per cent increase in demand for four-bedroom houses, as opposed to 51 per cent growth in the need for three-bedroom homes.

There will be a 21 per cent growth in demand for one bedroom and 20 per cent increase in requirement for two-bedroom housing.

It said, however, that families on low incomes seeking three-bedroom homes or larger are “at a disadvantage” and it was “essential that affordable housing supply is increased”.

Councillors’ reaction to the report will be in next week’s Herts Advertiser.

n A developer has warned it was “inevitable” that more Green Belt land would have to be released for future housing.

Commenting on the recently published independent housing needs assessment, Steve Taylor, director of St Congar Land, said the district council needed to “find a way forward” to meet the projected substantial demand for new homes.

He said he was surprised there was not more pressure to increase housing on suitable brownfield sites, such as Hanstead Park in Bricket Wood. The firm is seeking approval to build 175 homes on the site.

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