Developers pressing on with plans for St Albans wildlife meadow

Bedmond Meadow

Bedmond Meadow - Credit: Archant

Residents’ celebrations after the failure of planning appeal over the grazing of horses on a popular wildlife meadow have proved to be shortlived.

For no sooner had Verulam Residents Association heard that the appeal by Banner Homes against St Albans council’s decision to refuse grazing on land between Mayne Avenue and Bedmond Lane, St Albans, had been unsuccessful than the parent company, Cala Homes, submitted a revised planning application for the site.

The new application proposes to change the use of the meadow for the keeping of a horse, the creation of accesses from Mayne Avenue and Parklands Drive and the construction of two timber stables.

It addresses several of the issues behind the decision by the Planning Inspectorate earlier this month to turn down the appeal on the previous application.

Planning inspector Claire Victory had ruled against the appeal on the grunds that flora and fauna on the site could be significantly harmed by the proposed grazing of horses.

She also raised issues of highways safety, pointing out that there was no provision to feed and water horses on the site and the creation of any access from Mayne Avenue would create a hazard on a bus route.

In their application, Cala provide support for their assertion that the use of the land for one horse will not impact on the ecological value of the site

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and sensitive horse grazing can be beneficial.

They also maintain that access to the site can be provided with no impact on visibility and any turning of vehicles can be done on the grassed area within the meadow.

The application has already been called in for a planning committee decision by district councillor Edgar Hill on a number of grounds including highways issues, increased pollution and the impact on the ecology due to the construction of a road.

He also points out that it is widely recognised that the application to use land for grazing is a prerequisite for residential development - a concern that been shared by the residents association since grazing proposals for the meadow first came to light.

Timothy Beecroft, chair of Verulam Residents Association (VRA, said they were currently ‘going through the application with a fine tooth comb to see how it differs from the first’.

They were also looking at how it related to the ongoing issue of the listing of the meadow as an Asset of Community Value, which offers the land greater protection and has been approved by the district council but is being challenged by Cala Homes through an appeal process.

Confirming that VRA would vigorously oppose the application, Mr Beecroft added: “A particular concern this time may be the proposals for building access for vehicles from Mayne Avenue and Parkland Drive and the construction of a stable building on the site.”

VRA has contacted 500 residents about the new plan for the site, urging them to submit their objections before the closing date of July 2. Details of the proposal can be found on the St Albans council website under the planning application reference number 5/2015/1555.