Development fears for St Albans playing field

PUBLISHED: 10:45 16 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 06 May 2010

The playing fields at Bernards Heath

The playing fields at Bernards Heath

A LEAFLET flagging up meetings about the new St Albans planning document has reawakened fears in residents minds about development on their doorstep. Residents of Bernards Heath (pictured) and the surrounding area were concerned when they received leafle

A LEAFLET flagging up meetings about the new St Albans planning document has reawakened fears in residents' minds about development on their doorstep.

Residents of Bernards Heath (pictured) and the surrounding area were concerned when they received leaflets through their door indicating that a supermarket could be built on the site of the old fire station.

Despite assurances from Herts County Council (HCC), which owns the land, that no part of the playing-field land is being considered for development, residents have voiced fears that there is something sinister afoot.

They are already concerned by the fact that the land behind Heathlands School on the heath has been cordoned off because of safety fears for the past couple of months.

Concerned neighbours who saw engineers carrying out borehole tests feared that the county council might be seeking to use the land for development.

But HCC has insisted that it instructed agents to carry out tests on health and safety grounds and that it had no development designs on the land.

St Albans planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, also refuted claims that there was a proposal to build a supermarket in the Bernards Heath area.

He explained the leaflets were sent out to advertise upcoming meetings with residents so views on the Local Development Framework (LDF) - the council's new planning blueprint - could be gathered.

He said: "A retail survey several years ago identified a need for a supermarket on the north side of the city and we have to consult local people to find out what they think of ideas like that."

People who have lived in the area for years and know the area well say it is nonsense to cordon it off on safety grounds.

One resident, who regularly walks her dog there, said: "People just ignored the signs and pushed the barriers over. Unfortunately HCC has stopped mowing the grass so you can't even see where all the dips and nooks and crannies are so it's ironically made it more unsafe."

She said the safety warning signs failed to keep people off the land as there was nowhere else suitable to walk dogs in the area.

A spokesperson for HCC said: "We would like to reassure residents that there is nothing untoward about the length of time being taken over the report. We appreciate people are keen to know the findings of the ground investigation but we ask for patience while we await the results. We will publicise the findings once we receive them.


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