Accusations of over-development thrown at St Albans council

PUBLISHED: 16:08 13 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:15 13 July 2017

Development building-work in St Albans

Development building-work in St Albans

Archant

Accusations of over-development in a conservation area have been thrown at the district council (SADC).

Objections from residents have flooded in about a new application to build 74 new apartments in a seven story high-rise on a car park on Grosvenor Road in a St Albans conservation area.

SADC designates these regions because they are of “special architectural or historic interest”.

There have been hundreds of new homes approved for this particular area in the last few years - including 44 in Ridgmont Plaza, 58 in Beaufort House, 125 in the Ziggurat Building, and 80 in Gabriel Square on London Road.

An action group, St Albans Groundswell, is currently raising money to take legal action against the car park application.

Local resident, Edmund Hornsby, said development was “enormous”: “They’ve all got to go somewhere. We would hope that the council have looked at things in terms of schools, in terms of fire, in terms of police, in terms of trains.”

Another local, Valerie Edwards, said there are “so many” questions to be considered, including “over-development”, “non-sustainability” of infrastructure, “too many losses of required office space”, “adverse architectural image”, and “loss of mature trees”.

Planning portfolio holder, District Cllr Mary Maynard, stressed that planning is a legal process: “I think there’s an infrastructure case and that is something which should be looked at - I absolutely feel for them, it should be integrated and it’s something I am very conscious of.”

Head of planning and building control for SADC, Tracy Harvey, said: “Under recent changes to planning law, existing office buildings can be converted to residential use without the submission of a planning application to the council.

“They can claim what is called prior approval, where the principle of residential use has already been granted by the government.”

She said planners consider a range of impacts a development may have in the local area, but have “no scope” under prior approval.

She noted the car park application does not have prior approval.

To donate to St Albans Groundswell’s legal action, click here.

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