Rejected scheme for retirement village behind St Albans garden centre up for appeal

The Burston Garden Centre on the North Orbital Road. Picture: Google Maps

The Burston Garden Centre on the North Orbital Road. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

A developer is appealing against the rejection of a scheme which would see a new retirement community built at the back of a St Albans garden centre.

In March this year, St Albans City and District Council rejected an application to demolish horticultural buildings on Green Belt land at the back of the Burston Garden Centre on the North Orbital Road.

The proposal would see a 64-bedroom care home, 125 assisted-living bungalows and apartments, and a community clubhouse built on the site instead.

None of the homes proposed would be classed as affordable.

The council said it was inappropriate development of Green Belt land which contributes to the merging of How Wood and Chiswell Green.

It also said the buildings would encroach and substantially harm adjacent Grade II* and Grade II-listed buildings next door.

In the Planning Referrals Committee when the decision was made, Cllr Geoff Harrison also said facilities might be too far away for the less-mobile population of a retirement village.

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Developers Castleoak Care Partnerships has submitted an appeal against that decision to the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

It argues the proposal will not harm the Green Belt because the site has been previously developed and is largely well contained.

Castleoak also stresses that the council do not have a five-year housing supply and there is no requirement to provide affordable housing.

After laying out its "very special circumstances" (VSC) in the appeal, Castleoak said they "clearly outweigh any harm and perceived harm to the Green Belt".

Adding: "These VSCs should be considered in the context of paragraph 11 of the NPPF, which states that where development plan policies are out of date, permission should be granted unless the adverse impact of doing so would 'significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits' when assessed against the policies in the framework taken as a whole."

You can view the appeal using planning reference 5/2018/1324 on the district council's portal. Comments on the appeal must be received by the council before October 4.