Controversial Sandridge forest car park given green light

A NARROW vote in favour has given the go ahead to the building of an access road and car park at the new Heartwood Forest in Sandridge.

Despite 37 letters of objection to the proposal, mostly from nearby residents, members of St Albans planning central committee gave approval by four votes to three.

And in a bid to ease some of the concerns of residents, the committee has stipulated that it wants to see a 1.5 metre bund established around the main car park to shield it from near neighbours.

The Woodland Trust had applied for permission for an access road off the main B651 road through Sandridge close to the junction with Coleman Green Lane. A main car park with 55 spaces will be established on land between the Sandridge Scout hut and the High Street, with an overflow parking area for a further 100 cars to the north which would only be used for special events and busy holiday periods.

Objectors, around 20 of whom were at the meeting, raised a number of concerns including noise and traffic impact, the risk that a car park would encourage vandalism and anti-social behaviour, highway safety at the access and egress and the impact on villagers’ views of the countryside.

But planning officers said that even though the site was in the Green Belt, the provision of a car park was appropriate given its link with a forest and Herts Highways had no objections to the access road from a safety point of view.

After the meeting committee vice-chairman, Cllr Tom Clegg, said that he had voted in favour of the scheme because he felt that without a designated car park, visitors to the forest would leave their cars all over the village – a problem which he had encountered with school parking in his Marshalswick North ward.

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He added: “Personally I did not think there was a problem but some councillors felt there was. It is 850 acres of forest which will be fantastic when it matures and it will be there for thousands of years.”