Developers launch appeal to push for horse grazing on St Albans community meadow land

Bedmond Meadow

Bedmond Meadow - Credit: Archant


Bedmond Meadow

Bedmond Meadow - Credit: Archant

A meadow under threat of housing development faces a fresh challenge in the appeal court over a bid to allow horse grazing on the site.

Cala Homes is looking to change the use of Bedmond Lane Field to keep a horse in the meadow, which will also mean building two accesses and two stables. Allowing horse grazing on the field is seen by residents who oppose the development of the site as a precursor to building homes.

St Albans district council rejected their second application to let a horse into the meadow, and the developers are now appealing against the decision.

Resident Dr Robert Wareing said: “They said it would be good for the meadow to graze a horse on it - but to do so they must put stables into the field and hard standing ground.

Bedmond Meadow

Bedmond Meadow - Credit: Archant

“It’s putting their foot in the door before they kick the door off its hinges. It’s clearly a ruse so they will be in a stronger position to do what they want to do, which is put houses on there.”

Cala Homes has also appealed to change the status of the meadow from an asset of community value to allow them to continue to develop on the site.

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The status of asset of community value, which the residents’ association lobbied for, gives the land added protection. The case is going to the court of appeal on Tuesday, November 21, while the planning inspectorate will decide whether a horse is allowed at a date yet to be announced.

The meadow is considered a wildlife haven, is full of plants and flowers, and is popular with residents.

Timothy Beecroft, chair of Verulam Residents’ Association, said: “The meadow is valued very much as open land by the residents here and these particular applications we think are inappropriate.

“We want to demonstrate that the land is an asset to the community.

“We hope that the inspectorate overturns the appeal. We’ll continue to be vigilant about the field.”

When the residents’ association previously defeated the change of use application, they used the example of an almost identical application for change of use in Somerset in 2014. In that case, the building of stables on Green Belt land was shown to be inappropriate as the applicants were unable to demonstrate that there were any special circumstances which would allow the proposal to be accepted.