Another victory for the underdog in the battle of St Albans meadow
PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 May 2016
Residents battling to save a flora and fauna-rich meadow from potential development have scored another victory.
Verulam Residents Association (VRA) learned this week that Banner Homes, the owners of the Green Belt field in Bedmond Lane, had lost their appear to an Upper Tribunal over St Albans council’s decision to list the land as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
The hearing is seen as a test case as no other ACV case is going through the legal system and the ruling has sided strongly with on the council and the residents association.
Initially Banner Homes and its parent company Cala Homes had applied to graze horses on the meadow - generally seen as a precursor to an application for house building - and it was turned down both by the district council and on appeal.
A second application which included the creation of accesses from Mayne Avenue and Parklands Drive and the construction of two timber stables, was rejected by the council earlier this year but the formal rejection has been deferred to enable the council to consider the grounds for refusal.
VRA believes that the success of an identical case involving change of use and construction of stables on Green Belt land in Somerset in 2014 would provide grounds for St Albans council to beef up its rejection of the application.
In the meantime, although the meadow has been fenced, the land was offered some protection by the granting of an ACV which means the community would have six months to put in a bid should the meadow be sold.
Two appeals by Banner Homes against the decision were rejected and now an appeal to a judge in an Upper Tribunal has also failed. The only recourse, should Banner choose to take it, would be to go to the Court of Appeal.
Timothy Beecroft, chair of VRA, said: “We are very pleased that, with the council, we have won yet another battle in the long campaign to keep Bedmond Lane field a field and not a building site. Banner may try and appeal but the judgement seems to have come down firmly in our favour.
“This is an important case, not just for us. If we had lost it would have thrown the AVC process into doubt across the whole country.”
Mr Beecroft pointed out that the ruling said that with ACV listing, planning permission was more likely to be refused. He added: “St Albans district council don’t seem to have taken this on board - we hope they do now.”