D-day for decisions over St Albans Green Belt homes plan

Green Belt land to the rear of Harpenden Road

Green Belt land to the rear of Harpenden Road - Credit: Archant

Two appeals to build a major housing development on the same Green Belt site in St Albans are to be aired at an upcoming public inquiry, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced.

His inspector will shortly consider both appeals lodged by Hunston Properties, which for several years has continued to push to construct its controversial housing scheme, Sewell Park.

The firm wants to build between Woollams playing fields and St Albans Girls’ School, on land to the rear of 112-156B Harpenden Road.

Hunston is appealing against St Albans district council’s rejection of two schemes – one for 116 homes and a 72-bed care home, and a second for 71 houses and 14 flats. Both applications include plans for two tennis courts for the school, and public open space.

The council has refused both applications because it would result in urban sprawl.

It also deemed Sewell Park inappropriate development on the Green Belt, saying it would cause “substantial harm”.

Hunston’s schemes have become planning yo-yos, with the larger application initially dismissed by a planning inspector on appeal.

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But then that rejection was later quashed in the High Court.

That judgement was in turn challenged in the Court of Appeal but the High Court decision was upheld, resulting in the appeal returning to Mr Pickles for determination.

An appeal for the second scheme, for 71 homes, was temporarily suspended pending the High Court and Court of Appeal decisions, with both now to be considered after the public inquiry.

Details of the date and venue of the hearing are yet to be announced but the inspector’s recommendation will go back to Mr Pickles for determination.