Crown Estate in Redbourn could provide 5,500 homes say MPs

St Albans MP Anne Main on Cherry Trees Lane in Hemel Hempstead, part of the Crown Estate

St Albans MP Anne Main on Cherry Trees Lane in Hemel Hempstead, part of the Crown Estate - Credit: Archant

The answer to St Albans’ future housing needs might lie on a 3,000 acre estate in Redbourn which could provide over 5,500 new homes, according to three neighbouring politicians.

St Albans MP Anne Main, Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead, and South West Herts MP David Gauke have written to Mark Prisk, Minister of State for Communities and Local Government about land near Buncefield oil depot, to the west of the M1, east of Hemel.

The site, extending from near Wood End Lane in the south to the Nickey Line in the north, and from Cherry Tree Lane in the west to Redbournbury Mill in the east is owned by the Crown Estate, a significant landowner within Redbourn parish.

The MPs have told Mr Prisk there is “huge pressure to release high quality Green Belt” in both Dacorum and St Albans, which is worrying residents and creating uncertainty.

Pointing out that the Crown Estate is keen to see the site developed, the politicians said, “there is sufficient land to possibly allow for 5,500 plus new homes and thousands of new jobs.

“The site is detached from the rest of St Albans, cut off completely by the M1. It also offers a real opportunity to develop a sustainable extension to Hemel Hempstead of sufficient scale to ensure that major infrastructure can be planned and delivered.”

The MPs have suggested that both Dacorum borough and St Albans district councils create a joint area action plan based on the estate.

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Mrs Main said to the Herts Advertiser: “You can’t play politics with this.

“Developers are targeting St Albans. I can understand Redbourn wouldn’t be happy but the land has been identified by the Crown Estate for development.”

The estate put together a master plan, known as the “Gorhambury Concept”, five years ago, to put forward the case for a major urban extension to the east of Hemel.

James Doe, assistant director for planning, development and regeneration at Dacorum, said the council had recently adopted its core strategy, which “noted” the land as a possible future development site for both Hemel and St Albans.

He added: “But we can’t commit to that, as it is not our land – it’s within St Albans, even though it’s right on Hemel’s doorstep.”

Mr Doe said Dacorum intended discussing the possibility of developing the site with its St Albans counterparts.