St Albans London Road scheme is rejected

PUBLISHED: 18:34 30 August 2012 | UPDATED: 09:54 31 August 2012

London Road Project model pictures, October 2011

London Road Project model pictures, October 2011

Indigoplum

THE FUTURE of a scheme which would renovate a run-down site in St Albans has been thrown into doubt after it was turned down at a planning meeting on Tuesday.

Spen Hill Developments, the developers behind the London Road Project, submitted plans to build 80 new homes on an area of land at the junction of Alma Road and London Road known as the Eversheds site.

But when the application was presented to a St Albans council planning committee, members voted against the proposals after raising concerns about the lack of affordable housing.

The project had been recommended for refusal on the grounds of its visual impact, limited social housing and loss of privacy to nearby residents.

And during the meeting while the committee praised the “imaginative” design, they agreed the scheme did not meet the council’s 35 per cent affordable housing target.

Cllr Mal Pakenham said: “The issue of social housing is there in front of us looming large like the Rock of Gibraltar. If they want to have an application passed then they need to address the issue of social housing because it is not going to go away.

“That is a great shame because the scheme is imaginative, the architect is a world leading architect, but on the third question I ask myself is this the right application and reluctantly the answer is ‘no’.”

But Spen Hill’s representative, Mark Withan, explained they had been in two-year discussions with council officers and the public, and amended the plans based on their recommendations.

Addressing the committee he said: “There are no highway issues, no parking issues, there are no gates into the scheme.

“Critically it also delivers affordable homes, eight three-bedroom cottages in Inkerman Road to a specification acceptable to housing associations.”

He added: “Reluctantly a refusal of planning permission leads us down an expensive appeal route and the delay for a key city centre site.

“I would urge you to decide with 300 plus people who attended our exhibition and the eight families who could move in next April coming off of your housing list.”

The Herts Ad revealed last week if planning permission was refused developers had decided they would go to appeal but speaking after the meeting they said they were waiting for the council’s written decision before taking further action.

Steve Walker, from Collinson Hall who is involved in overseeing the site, said: “At the moment I think it is fair to say that of course we are disappointed at the way it turned out, but we are pleased that the members were supportive of the design on the scheme.

“We are going to hold off and see the written decision. An appeal is clearly the road we anticipated but we would reserve going with that until the written notice.”

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