Controversial Harpenden home scheme on wildlife habitat granted extension

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 October 2018

Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.

Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.

Archant

Plans to build homes over a protected snail habitat in Harpenden is on track to be realised, after being granted an extension.

Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.

Fierce battles have been waging for years over the former Westfield Road allotments site because Harpenden Town Council (HTC) want it for housing and campaigners want it left undisturbed.

Although it has not been used as allotments since 1999, a 2km diameter of the site is home to breeding birds, toads, frogs, slow-worms, grass snakes and Roman snails - or helix pomatia, which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

An HTC commissioned investigation in April to May 2016 and May 2017 found 66 snails living on the space.

The report stressed that figure is most probably higher as the area could not be extensively searched by hand.

Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.

However, on July 16 HTC obtained outline planning permission for 24 homes on the 0.6 hectare space, under the condition that a Section 106 agreement is provided by October 15.

This is despite problems determining who owns the strip of land vital for site access - a problem campaigners have pointed out on numerous occasions.

As part of the application, the breeding snail population will be split up and relocated.

It was promised that 100 per cent of those houses would be affordable, although only eight socially rented.

Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.

St Albans district council (SADC) Planning Referrals Committee has just granted an extension on that Section 106 document, to December 15.

HTC missed the deadline due to a disagreement over the definition of affordable housing.

In July, Cllr Eileen Harris, said: “If you go and visit the site you will see it is a complete, overgrown jungle.

“Even if it was allotments, the snails probably wouldn’t exist because of that blue stuff and I think it’s very good use of this land because we haven’t had anything affordable for as long as outside of my time as a councillor.”

Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.Westfield Road allotment Harpenden.

Campaigners have been fighting to save the snail habitat for nearly two decades, but despite this, councillors were joking in the July meeting.

Cllr Lyn Bolton said: “I’m not sure that the Roman snails really want to be moved from Harpenden to Hemel Hempstead mind.”

Cllr Jock Wright added: “I’m sure there is a Roman road they can wander along.”

More news stories

31 minutes ago

Crowds linked arms in tribute to orphans during a special centenary Remembrance Day service in London Colney.

15:04

A St Albans-based author held a launch party to celebrate the release of her debut paranormal crime thriller novel.

12:58

A historic landmark has unveiled a memorial specifically for St Albans train employees who died during World War One.

11:28

A charity cyclist has called for more action against train station theft after his bike was stolen.

CountryPhile

Recently we, as a family (minus two of the kids), visited The Lodge RSPB reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire. I had never been before, which is perhaps amiss of me as a birdwatcher as it is the headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or RSPB and only 45 minutes drive from home.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the The Herts Advertiser e-edition E-edition
Zoo Watch CountryPhile

Newsletter Sign Up

Herts Advertiser weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read stories

Show Job Lists

Herts Most Wanted Herts Business Awards