Hatfield Road development stuns neighbours with expansion plan

The site of the proposed development in Hatfield Road, St Albans.

The site of the proposed development in Hatfield Road, St Albans. - Credit: Clare Seldon

A controversial flats development which was approved at appeal has now shot up in size, leaving neighbours furious and frustrated by the unexpected changes.

The initial plans were for a block of eight two-bedroom flats on the site of a bungalow in Hatfield Road, near to Oaklands College and parallel to Pinewood Close, and involved demolishing the existing bungalow, building a new vehicle crossover and associated landscaping works - including parking at the front and the back.

St Albans councillors unanimously rejected the scheme, stating the proposal would provide a poor standard of living for future occupants of the site and would lead to significant parking pressure in an area which already experiences high demand for on-street parking.

They added that the harm arising would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefit of providing additional units in this case.

But the developer took the application to appeal and planning permission was eventually granted last year, with the planning inspector refuting the reasons relating to poor standard of accommodation and impact on on-street parking in neighbouring roads.

Now it transpires that the developers want to increase the number of floors, bedrooms and height of build, increasing the number of bedrooms to 18.

Neighbour Clare Seldon said: "They have submitted this under no material amendments which we strongly disagree with and feels underhand. It was already going to be an eyesore but they’ve now changed the front to actually look like a block of flats instead of a large house/two semis.

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"I’m utterly disappointed in the whole process as although we had unanimous backing before from councillors it still got approved by the Planning Inspectorate so I feel like giving up. I think our lack of a Local Plan is a huge failure for residents as technical reports always come back saying much along the lives of 'there’s nothing to say we can’t do this so tough luck'."

Ashley Ward district councillor Anthony Rowlands said: "The applicant has now decided to change the plans adding a further two further flats arguing that this is a non-material amendment. These changes will simply make it look more like the out-of-keeping block of flats which residents and councillors have opposed.

"The planning inspector's report demonstrated that she had nil appreciation of the potential long-term harm done by allowing this unprecedented application."

To comment on the application visit the council planning portal and use the reference 5/2021/3052.