Park and ride plans for St Albans Green Belt

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

A GREEN Belt site on the outskirts of the city centre has been earmarked for a four-star hotel complex, business park and park-and-ride scheme. The district council has identified a shortfall in budget hotels and large four-star hotels with conference fac

A GREEN Belt site on the outskirts of the city centre has been earmarked for a four-star hotel complex, business park and park-and-ride scheme.

The district council has identified a shortfall in budget hotels and large four-star hotels with conference facilities and has said it's unlikely to find an urban site for the latter.

A park-and-ride scheme for between 100 to 200 cars is also suggested, subject to a feasibility study, to attract more visitors to the city centre and ease congestion.

The emerging core strategy document - called Shaping our Community - concludes that agricultural land along London Road, south of the cemetery and adjacent to Nightingale Lane, is the most suitable for a four-star hotel complex and park-and-ride scheme.

It is the preferred choice over land off the Noke roundabout in Chiswell Green, for which plans are already afoot for Hilton to develop a four-star hotel with an adjoining budget hotel, conference facilities and a park-and-ride scheme.

The council thinks the Chiswell Green site lacks some of the advantages identified in London Road and would partly serve the M1, M25 and Watford markets, which it wants to avoid.

Land north of the cemetery in London Road has also been earmarked for a large business park aimed at improving employment opportunities. The "well-landscaped" 14-hectare complex would provide around 80,000 to 100,000 sq metres of office floor space.

Land east of Nightingale Lane may also be considered for the same use at the pre-submission stage of the core strategy.

But residents surrounding the London Road site, particularly those in Nightingale Lane who currently back onto the open land, aren't happy and have made strong objections.

Andrew Bell, of the South Birklands Residents' Association, said: "As a community we are objecting to all three proposals. Firstly, the whole area is Green Belt. Secondly, as far as the park-and-ride is concerned, it contradicts the part of the City Vision proposals which states that cars should be able to access the city centre which makes far more sense than this park-and-ride scheme."

He continued: "As far as a hotel development goes, this particular area is already supported by Sopwell House. A small budget hotel in the city centre is more sensible. Even if they do insist on a major out of town four-star hotel, putting it on London Road would add even more congestion."

He added: "And regarding the business park, what's really needed is city centre offices with good links to rail stations and St Albans itself."

Planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, stressed that the document was subject to consultation and that no decisions had been taken.

He said: "This is about consultation - we are asking these questions to formulate the district plan. It's now down to residents, stake holders and everybody this involves to tell us how they think we should move forward.

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