Breaking news: St Albans Green Belt land housing review released

Second and final part of an independent Green Belt review for St Albans district council has been re

Second and final part of an independent Green Belt review for St Albans district council has been released - Credit: Image courtesy of SKM

Land in St Albans earmarked as potentially suitable for release from the Green Belt to build thousands of homes upon has been identified by consultants, including a site within the Buncefield exclusion zone.

Sub-area highlighted for potential housing east of St Albans.

Sub-area highlighted for potential housing east of St Albans. - Credit: Image courtesy of SKM

The second and final part of an independent Green Belt review for St Albans district council has been published.

It is one of three studies commissioned to help the council complete its planning blueprint, the Strategic Local Plan.

In their St Albans Green Belt sites and boundaries study, consultants Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), have identified eight parcels of land “which may potentially be favourable for release from the Green Belt”.

SKM indicated that the parcels could provide space for between 5,054 and 8,422 new houses, depending on the number, type and size of homes, including apartments, built per site.

But that falls well short of the projected target in the recently released future housing need figures, which suggested 11,724 houses be built 2011 and 2031.

The review follows an initial report highlighting areas contributing least to the district’s Green Belt.

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However, a council spokeswoman said it did not determine whether or not land should remain in, or be released from Green Belt designation, or where houses will be built in future – that has yet to be decided by the authority.

Land identified as potentially suitable for release in the next five to 20 years includes land east and north of St Albans, northwest and northeast of Harpenden, and at Chiswell Green.

The study looked at strengths, weaknesses and marks out potentially developable parcels of land within the eight strategic sub-areas – including east of Hemel Hempstead.

Oaklands College, which is currently awaiting a decision on its bid to build 348 homes in the Green Belt, is at the centre of a sub-area east of St Albans, which also contains Verulam School playing fields, Beaumont School and Oakwood Primary School. The rest of the sub-area is used for agriculture.

SKM said that this could potentially provide a 39-hectare site, suitable for between 697 and 1,162 dwellings - a mix of houses and apartments.

North of St Albans, along Sandridgebury Lane, near Woollams playing fields, SKM said 51ha could provide for between 910 and 1,516 homes.

Northwest of Harpenden, in a sub-area comprising land in the vicinity of Luton Road, Cooters End Lane and Ambrose Lane, up to 531 homes could potentially be built on 18ha.

A second site, northeast of Harpenden along Lower Luton Road, extending within the vicinity of Whitings Close, within the Upper Lea Valley, 38ha could generate between 687 and 1,145 homes.

Land at a sub-area in London Colney has been temporarily excluded from the report, as the consultants are awaiting information on whether a former landfill site to the south of the village could result in the constraint of its use for housing.

Nineteen hectares at Chiswell Green has been earmarked as a possible site for up to 571 homes.

To meet longer term housing needs, beyond 20 years, two sub-areas east of Hemel Hempstead have been highlighted as the possible site for up to 1,675 homes.

The consultants said that one of these areas could form a new community on the eastern edge of Hemel, while the second is located within the Buncefield exclusion zone, “which represents a potential primary constraint to development.

“Given the location of the site, recommended land uses would relate to employment over housing.”

The classification of land at London Colney will be revealed on Wednesday December 18, when the review will be presented to the council’s planning policy meeting.

SKM said its findings would help the council “strike the balance between development needs and Green Belt restraint”.

But they warned: “There is likely to be pressure from housing developers to bring forward those sites which have least constraints and are most economically viable.”