Fresh hope in fight to save St Albans Green Belt site

THE FIGHT to save a Green Belt site proposed for residential development was bolstered last week after councillors agreed to review the issue.

At a full St Albans council meeting last Wednesday (January 20), local action group CLASH – Campaign by Locals Against Sewell Housing – presented their petition and warned councillors that it would continue to defend the land from unwanted development for as long as it took.

The group was formed to stop the Green Belt land east of Harpenden Road up to the Woollams playing fields from being selected as a possible future strategic housing location by St Albans council. They were particularly motivated to act after Hunston Properties’ proposal to develop Sewell Park and construct 125 detached and semi-detached homes.

Presenting the petition, Gareth Evans, spokesman for CLASH, urged councillors to listen to their local community and remove the site permanently from the core strategy and from any future site allocations. He said the development would not benefit St Albans Girls School (STAGS), as the developers claimed, and accused them of “creating an artificial link to mislead the community”.

Mr Evans also encouraged the gathered councillors to consider the already-stretched infrastructure in the area and reminded the Liberal Democrats that they had pledged to protect the Green Belt.

He said: “If you allow this Green Belt to be released you will receive many applications from many other Green Belt sites all around St Albans who will seek to capitalise on this precedence.”

Speaking to a full chamber, Mr Evans concluded that relinquishing the Green Belt for development was contrary to the wishes of the community as well as the core strategy itself.

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After the petition was presented, the chamber debated whether the planning policy advisory panel should further consider the issues and an overwhelming majority agreed that it should.

Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles encouraged all councillors to put aside party opportunism and consider the Green Belt issue as something which transcended politics.

He said: “I welcome any public campaign or interest in defending the Green Belt. It is something which affects our whole community.”

Cllr Aislinn Lee reiterated that comment, telling the chamber that defending the Green Belt was something they should all support.

The core strategy of the council’s planning blueprint, the Local Development Framework, is currently subject to public consultation and will eventually identify suitable future development sites in the district.

If the land east of Harpenden Road is included, it means that proposals such as those put forward by Hunston Properties would be more likely to get the go-ahead.

Hunston Properties have said that in developing Sewell Park, STAGS would receive money for new facilities.