Another David vs Goliath victory in battle over development of St Albans meadow

Bedmond Meadow

Bedmond Meadow - Credit: Archant

Delighted residents were celebrating this week after learning that the latest bid to graze horses on a wildlife meadow adjoining their homes had failed.

An appeal by Banner Homes against the district council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the grazing of horses of land between Mayne Avenue and Bedmond Lane, St Albans, was turned down by an inspector.

It follows a tribunal’s decision earlier this year to dismiss an appeal by Banner Homes over the designation on the land as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) which affords the site greater protection from any future development.

The meadow is a haven for wildlife and wildflowers which has been used by local residents for recreational purposes for many years.

Many feared that the grazing of horses would be a precursor to development of the land for housing.

In her ruling, planning inspector Claire Victory referred to the large number of residents who had made representations to the appeal that the land had not been cultivated in at least 40 years.

Although the land is not formally designated as a Local Wildlife Site, she shared concerns that if intensive horse grazing was proposed, there was a significant danger that the proposed use could seriously damage the rich grassland identified by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust in a survey carried out last July.

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She also said that although there was no substantiated evidence that the flora and fauna described by residents was present on the site, on the basis of available evidence, there was “a reasonable likelihood of species being present on the site that could be significantly harmed by the proposed use”.

The other issue of concern was the impact on highway safety from the provision of horses on to the site and the need to provide them with food and water.

Ms Victory felt that the creation of any access for vehicles from Mayne Avenue would create a hazard on a bus route and a main distributor road for the Verulam Estate.

Verulam Residents Association has thanked residents for their help and support over the past year whether it be taking photos, distributing leaflets, collecting signatures on a petition or attending hearings.