St Albans new Local Plan consultation: Road was not a smooth journey
PUBLISHED: 12:28 10 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:53 10 January 2018
The creation of a new Local Plan forced St Albans council to take a complete U-turn in their tactics.
More than a decade ago, councillors started work on a planning document to supersede the outdated 1994 version - over the years this Strategic Local Plan would become the subject of much controversy and eventually be thrown out by a High Court judge.
They faced objections from neighbouring councils in the South West Herts Group (SWHG) - Dacorum borough council, Hertsmere borough council, Three Rivers district council, and Watford borough council - who said SADC had not co-operated fully with them when proposing to build thousands of homes on their borders and disagreed with SADC’s housing needs predications, rating them far too low.
In 2016 planning inspector David Hogger recommended the document was withdrawn and rewritten, but SADC fought to save it at High Court - dolling out £35,000 in legal fees.
However, Judge Sir Ross Cranston upheld Mr Hogger’s ruling and SADC was forced to start over.
Have your say on the plans
St Albans district council (SADC) has printed 60,000 postal surveys asking where new homes should be built, what sort of houses are needed, and how business growth should be supported.
There is also a five minute video, 14 exhibitions in community halls, and a call to landowners for possible sites.
This time, SADC is working alongside the SWHG and including provision for thousands of extra homes in their new Local Plan.
It follows the Government stepping in last September and proposing a standardised calculation for housing to be used across the UK.
This is based on an ‘affordability ratio’ and implemented where house prices are more than four times the average earnings. For every one per cent the ratio rises, the housing assessment also increases by 0.25 per cent.
At first it was thought this would increase SADC housing projections from 8,100 to more than 16,000, but a shift in timescales means SADC is now working with a figure of nearly 15,000.
Although that proposal has not yet been approved, SADC has made provision for the inflated target in their new Local Plan.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid also wrote to SADC asking why the document is yet to materialise. He threatened Government intervention if reasons for the delay were not persuasive: “In the 13 years that have passed since the 2004 Act [Local Plan] was introduced your council has failed to meet the deadlines set out in that timetable.”
SADC must respond to Mr Javid by January 31.