Derelict London Colney office site to become homes

The Willows land has been approved to change from offices to residential use

The Willows land has been approved to change from offices to residential use - Credit: Archant

An office site set to become a temporary mosque in St Albans four years ago will instead be turned into seven detached homes.

The former Cemex building on the corner of Lowbell Lane and Barnet Road in London Colney was derelict for about five years.

Schemes for the office’s conversion to housing developments were rejected three times in 2011 alone, a year after it was agreed that it could be turned into a temporary mosque – which never came to fruition.

Back then, St Albans district council had refused repeated change of use applications for housing, citing concerns over the risk of flooding.

But it was a case of fourth-time lucky with a recently submitted scheme for one three-bedroom, one five-bedroom and five four-bedroom homes.

Despite officers recommending the change of use bid be refused, councillors at a plans south committee meeting instead gave the go-ahead.

Cllr Chris Brazier, the committee’s vice-chairman, said that while officers had concerns about the “overbearing impact” of the homes, councillors believed the development would not result in substantial harm to the area.

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He added: “That site has been derelict for a number of years. We have a need for housing, and it is a brownfield site. The locals supported it – we didn’t get loads of objections to it and in fact we got 21 letters of support.”

One of those backing the plan said the site had been an “eyesore for a few years”.

Another supporter said that as a local employer, they were “finding it difficult for staff to live locally due to the lack of appropriate housing”.

Cllr Brazier said the derelict building has recently been demolished.