Go-ahead for 100 homes on Bricket Wood Green Belt site

PUBLISHED: 18:47 02 November 2014

ID shots for stories on the Green Belt and future expansion of St Albans, BRE Watford, Garston Site, Bucknalls Lane

ID shots for stories on the Green Belt and future expansion of St Albans, BRE Watford, Garston Site, Bucknalls Lane


A hundred new homes are set to be built on Green Belt land in the district after getting the nod from Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

He backed his planning inspector’s conclusion following a public inquiry that permission should be granted for the new homes at the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Bricket Wood.

The development, which was opposed by councillors following an outcry from local residents, is not included in housing figures in the council’s planning blueprint, the Strategic Local Plan because of its Green Belt location.

But Mr Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, agreed with his inspector that although the site was in the Green Belt, it was redevelopment of a previously-developed site.

With the lack of a five-year supply of housing land in St Albans and what he perceived as an ‘acute need for housing (including affordable housing) within the district’, he took the view that the proposed development would ease the situation.

The district council refused the application, against the recommendation of their officers, on the grounds of access problems, lack of sustainability and infrastructure.

Councillors felt that it was too isolated with a poor access road - it would be accessed from Bucknalls Drive - and would be too car dependent which made the project unsustainable.

Mr Pickles accepted that the relatively isolated position of the development, which is some distance from Bricket Wood station and serviced by limited bus availability on weekday evenings and at the weekend, did weigh against the proposal.

But he felt that there was positive sustainability because of opportunities for existing or future BRE staff to live close to work, reducing car usage, and the availability of pedestrian and cycle rights of way through the site.

The decision brings to an end more than a decade of BRE trying to build homes on the Bricket Wood site.

The first application in 2001 was turned down by the then Secretary of State and another application in 2012 was withdrawn.

The houses will be built on the northern part of the BRE site.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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