Green Belt sites could be off planning blueprint for St Albans and Harpenden

PUBLISHED: 08:51 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:50 06 May 2010

ALL the Green Belt sites under consultation in the district council s planning blueprint look certain to be taken out of the document. The news is sure to be a huge relief for neighbours of all eight sites listed as areas of search in the Green Belt which

ALL the Green Belt sites under consultation in the district council's planning blueprint look certain to be taken out of the document.

The news is sure to be a huge relief for neighbours of all eight sites listed as areas of search in the Green Belt which have been consulted upon for the core strategy of the planning document, the Local Development Framework (LDF).

St Albans council leader, Cllr Robert Donald, said he would be proposing at tonight's special meeting of St Albans cabinet that all the areas of search in the Green Belt should be removed from the core strategy.

That would include particularly controversial sites to the south west of St Albans adjoining the Verulam Estate, which could accommodate up to 900 new homes and a new orbital road, and land to the north of Harpenden bordered by Cooters End Lane.

The others are in and around London Colney, agricultural land in between Hatfield Road and Sandpit Lane, St Albans, Smallford and around 30 acres of open countryside to the east of Redbourn.

All the sites attracted strong opposition from surrounding residents.

Cllr Donald, who stressed that he could not pre-empt the decision of cabinet and full council on the issue, said he was proposing removing the sites not just because of the public opposition to the areas of search but because the district council did not want to see housing development on Green Belt land.

He admitted it would leave the council having to find the balance of housing needed to reach its target of 7,200 new homes by 2021.

But he went on: "I don't think it will actually be all that difficult with windfall sites which will come up and by allowing some development in the city as part of the City Vision, I believe we will be able to make up the difference."

He said that there might have to be a higher density of housing on brownfield sites which was something that was happening in other places.

The core strategy will be the subject of an examination in public before it is adopted as part of the LDF and Cllr Donald said that it once it was approved by the government inspector, it would give a degree of protection from developers who might still push ahead with trying to develop Green Belt sites such as those which were areas of search.

Dr Robert Wareing, who has been at the forefront of the campaign to prevent development on the fields adjoining the Verulam Estate, said that he applauded the news which was the right decision as well as bold and courageous.

But he pointed out that the inspector who presided over the inquiry still had to approve the housing strategy and could overrule the council and throw out the revised plans if they were seen as unsound.

He added: "Let's just hope this is one potential prey that escapes! St Albans can then breathe easily again - for the time being at least.


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