St Albans stakeholders fight over development on Sandridge Green Belt

PUBLISHED: 16:13 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:36 02 October 2017

The former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny Loo

The former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

St Albans civic groups, council officers, councillors, and citizens are arguing over a development on Sandridge’s Green Belt.

The former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny LooThe former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny Loo

A preliminary application to build 14 three-bedroom affordable homes in Sandridge has been called into the planning referrals committee by Cllr Roma Mills.

Cllr Mills wrote to the committee: “The proposed development would provide accommodation which is consistent with the pressing housing needs of the district and should be given full consideration.

“While the site is within the Green Belt and part of the conservation area, consideration should be given to the housing need of the district and whether this outweighs other planning issues.”

However, the amassed ranks of St Albans civic society, St Albans council, and some residents are opposed to the development.

The former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny LooThe former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny Loo

Similar applications on the former allotment land, near to Hopkins Crescent, have been dismissed by St Albans council and planning inspectors.

In their report to the planning referrals committee, which meets tonight, council officers say the proposal would damage the openness of the Green Belt, and would be too expensive for people on the housing register.

In their representation, St Albans civic society wrote: “The proposal is premature pending the new local plan and permitting it would set a precedent for similar green belt sites in the locality.”

The Campaign for Rural England has also urged the council to reject the application.

The former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny LooThe former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny Loo

Views from the public are mixed, with some opposing the erosion of the Green Belt, and others encouraging the development of more affordable housing.

Rebecca McGregor from Winchester wrote to the council: “I was looking to relocate back to the St Albans area following a job offer in the education system, but due to the lack of housing and no sign of any houses being built in the future I’ve had to stay on the south coast.

“I am extremely surprised this application has not yet been approved in a city that desperately needs housing.”

David Broom from Colney Heath wrote: “As someone who has been looking to move to the village for some time I can only support any application to provide much needed additional homes. Especially as in this case, the space proposed for development is an overgrown and wasted space that has been unused for some years.

The former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny LooThe former allotment site on Sandridge High Street. Picture: Danny Loo

“New housing is desperately needed in this area and I would much rather see small developments on wasted land like this, than large areas of Green Belt developed.”

However, Mr and Mrs Barry of High Street in Sandridge wrote: “When we moved there in 1998 for our retirement, we were attracted by the views across the valley and the fact it was designed as Green Belt land.

“This proposed development would result in a significant loss of amenity for us, and would result in considerable additional inconvenience and noise.”

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