SIR, — So another residents protest bites the dust (Herts Advertiser, February 28). After nearly six years, the developers have finally obtained permission to build on King Harry Lane playing fields in St Albans. Years of effort and two unanimous distric
SIR, - So another residents' protest bites the dust (Herts Advertiser, February 28). After nearly six years, the developers have finally obtained permission to build on King Harry Lane playing fields in St Albans. Years of effort and two unanimous district council resolutions against the development have been overturned - the same outcome as for Oaklands College and the City Station car park. The list is endless.
The truth is that not one major housing development has in fact been stopped by residents for the past 20 years. A sobering thought. To be absolutely accurate, the Victoria Park, Folly Lane, development proposal was stopped but only because the residents found a clause in the original bequest of the land specifically forbidding development.
Not one of the reasons for refusal of the playing fields plan introduced by the residents' representatives at the council planning meeting was in fact included in the list of reasons for refusal submitted to the inspector who dealt with the appeal. No mention of inadequate infrastructure, the impossibility of invading the Conservation Area to alleviate traffic gridlock, the inefficacy of restricting buyers of the property to those aged 55 or over - who changes their lifestyle aged 55? - the fact that the county's own Forward Planning Unit had confirmed that St Albans had no need to invade greenfield sites such as this one in order to satisfy its housing targets for many years to come. The council officers wrote out the reasons for refusal before the council planning meeting took place, and this officers' document remained unchanged. It was as if the council planning meeting had never even happened.
All the council's reasons for refusal could be easily satisfied by paying out more money to either the district or the county council, except for one where they were asked to change the design of one building. In fact it was clearly stated in the appeal document that before the appeal took place, the developer had had meetings with the district and county council officers to discuss what sums of money should be handed over by the developer.
This is not sour grapes. This is simply a statement of the facts, particularly for those residents with the unenviable task of fighting against all the other major housing development proposals in the pipeline. I am saying no more on the matter.
If I were a millionaire, I would be going for a Judicial Review of this decision. But as I am not, I will not. To think that British boys are dying in Iraq in order that the unique British form of democracy can be introduced there.
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Chairman, Verulam Residents' Association