Bricket Wood BRE homes plan goes to public inquiry

PUBLISHED: 06:36 16 November 2013

ID shots for stories on the Green Belt and future expansion of St Albans, BRE Watford, Garston Site, Bucknalls Lane

ID shots for stories on the Green Belt and future expansion of St Albans, BRE Watford, Garston Site, Bucknalls Lane

Archant

A controversial scheme for 100 homes on a Green Belt village site is going to a public inquiry.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) had sought planning permission to redevelop the site of its existing headquarters in Bucknalls Lane, Bricket Wood, in the face of local opposition.

In May St Albans councillors voted to refuse the application despite the scheme being recommended for approval by their officers.

BRE is now contesting the decision, particularly the two main issues raised by councillors - the site’s “unsustainable location and distance from local facilities” and its impact on existing infrastructure including schools and health services.

Cllr Chris Brazier said at the time: “It is not a scheme that is well integrated into the surrounding area. It has relatively poor access and as a result, it would be car dependent. It would lead to the coalescence of Garston and Watford.”

In the appeal, Neil Paterson on behalf BRE argues that accessibility is just one aspect of sustainability and accuses the council of taking “a flawed and myopic view of the issue of sustainability”.

He points out that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages new developments in locations that can be made sustainable and the proposal for the BRE site proposes a package of measures including linking the new housing with adjoining amenities including Bricket Wood village by means of pedestrian and cycle links .

He also highlights the fact that the BRE site has been identified from development by the district council and the Harperbury Hospital site near Radlett, part of which has been earmarked for residential development, is a “significantly less sustainable location than the BRE site”.

Turning to the impact on infrastructure, schools and health services, Mr Paterson said the application had been accompanied by a draft agreement to pay towards the improvement of local facilities.

The public inquiry will be held at a date and venue to be announced.

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