Government to probe decision on Green Belt college homes

PUBLISHED: 08:03 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

A GOVERNMENT planning inspector is set to decide if St Albans District Council was correct in granting permission for homes to be built on the Green Belt to fund a massive college complex. Oaklands College was given the go-ahead to build a new state-of-t

A GOVERNMENT planning inspector is set to decide if St Albans District Council was correct in granting permission for homes to be built on the Green Belt to fund a massive college complex.

Oaklands College was given the go-ahead to build a new state-of-the art campus at their Smallford site in partnership with developers George Wimpey North Thames last year.

But the £100-million proposal included building 62 new houses and flats on the Green Belt land at the site in order to make it economically viable.

The council also granted permission for 38 houses to be built on the former agricultural Oaklands site in Highfield Lane, also Green Belt land, to fund the college project.

Councillors agreed to grant permission as they believed that educational benefits of the new college would outweigh the harm to the Green Belt land.

But because the decision contravened Green Belt policy, Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, called in the application to investigate if the council was correct in the decision.

The outcome of the proposals for both Oaklands sites will now be decided by a planning inquiry commencing on March 3 which could last up to 12 working days.

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