Developers appeal over St Albans Green Belt homes bid

A ST ALBANS action group’s recent success in thwarting a bid to turn Green Belt land into a major housing development could be short-lived as the developers have launched a two-pronged attempt to get the go-ahead.

The scheme for Sewell Park – 116 homes, a 72-bed care home and two tennis courts to the rear of 112-156B Harpenden Road – has been altered and resubmitted to St Albans district council (SADC).

Promoters Hunston Properties have also appealed against SADC’s decision in late October to reject the development, proposed for a 5.24 hectare site near Woollams playing fields.

Agent David Lane, principal of DLA Town Planning, said he was still awaiting an appeal date from the Planning Inspectorate.

The scheme has also been resubmitted to the council, with changes.

These include smaller units in the northern corner of Sewell Park, near the playing fields, which have been dropped in size from two storeys in height to one-and-a-half.

The scheme promises the payment of �1.5 million towards a new sixth form centre for St Albans Girls’ School, should the council give approval.

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Mr Lane said that whereas the previous application included 13 five-bedroom homes, these had been dropped completely from the current proposal. The number of three-bedroom houses has been increased from 46 to 60.

The scope of the application remains the same as the previous one, however, with 116 houses in total, along with the tennis courts and care home.

Local community group CLASH (Campaign by Locals Against Sewell Housing) successfully fought against the original application, after signing up 1,500 like-minded supporters opposing the plan.

Councillors turned down an outline planning application for Sewell Park two months ago, saying there were no special circumstances to warrant it being built on Green Belt land.

A spokesman for CLASH said: “The new application did not address the most important issue, that there remains no special circumstances for development on this Green Belt site.

“St Albans district council has already sent out a strong statement in favour of the protection of Green Belt by refusing the original application by an overwhelming majority and must continue to do so in the strongest possible terms at its appeal next year.”

The CLASH spokesperson added: “The current planning system and the continued absence of an adopted core strategy for St Albans district is opening the system up to speculative development proposals and will do so until such time as local and [central] government planning policy guidance is agreed.”