Four per cent response rate to St Albans Local Plan

Green Belt land in Harpenden along Luton Road, earmarked for possible urban expansion in St Alban di

Green Belt land in Harpenden along Luton Road, earmarked for possible urban expansion in St Alban district council's draft Strategic Local Plan - Credit: Archant

A £36,000 six-week consultation on the St Albans Local Plan has only yielded a four per cent household response rate.

St Albans district council (SADC) sent out 60,000 leaflets to every home in the district inviting comments on the new St Albans Local Plan - a blueprint outlining housing and infrastructure development plans from 2020 to 2036.

About 2,400 people responded to the consultation - which is four per cent of the 60,000 households. As many houses are occupied by more than one person, the percentage response may actually be lower.

Neighbouring councils, Highways England, the Environment Agency, Thames Water, St Albans MP Anne Main, and Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami made representations.

The council also created a video which was viewed about 2,200 times and held 14 exhibitions to explain what the Local Plan aims to achieve.

More than half of the 2,400 responses came from those who had not replied to a previous consultation, which SADC estimates was only slightly cheaper to implement.

SADC portfolio holder for planning, Cllr Mary Maynard, said: “We wanted to reach out to the whole community as this Local Plan is a vital piece of work that will shape the future of the district for years to come.

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“We used every communication channel open to us to get the public’s attention including posting a booklet to every resident, social media posts, a touring exhibition and a video.

“I think the result has been a considerable success as we received more than double the number of responses we got to a previous Local Plan consultation four years ago.”

Landowners have also proposed around 150 more development sites for potential inclusion in the plan.

Without this help, SADC would not have the space to build 15,000 homes and necessary infrastructure and would fall 3,000 homes short.

SADC says it will now choose the most suitable new sites to plug that gap.

Cllr Maynard said: “Our call for sites gained a great deal of interest and we must now decide which are appropriate for development.

“In doing so, we will weigh up a great many factors such as balancing development needs with our aspiration to preserve the Green Belt and the integrity of our existing towns and villages.”

An update on the consultation was presented to a SADC planning policy committee on Tuesday March 13.