Harpenden campaigners say: ‘We must think again over Green Belt homes’

The proposed site for a new school off Lower Luton Road

The proposed site for a new school off Lower Luton Road - Credit: Archant

Campaigners in Harpenden are hoping that a decision by another local authority to reassess potential Green Belt development in its draft local plan might persuade St Albans district councillors to look again at theirs.

Harpenden Green Belt Society has been at the forefront of objections to the release of Green Belt land in the north west of the town for the potential building of 500 new homes.

It is one of four sites in the draft Local Strategic Plan - St Albans council’s planning blueprint - which is being recommended for release from the Green Belt should it be necessary to meet new housing targets.

But strong opposition has been voiced in the town with residents questioning the necessity of such a land release, poor infrastructure and facilities and more traffic pressures if the site is turned over to housing.

The Green Belt Society is now hoping that the district council will look again at the issue of Green Belt releases in light of a decision taken by Guildford Borough Council in Surrey.

That has decided to reassess its draft local plan in response to what it describes as ‘clear’ guidance from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and a high number of responses expressing widespread opposition to building on the Green Belt.

Guildford’s decision follows updated guidance from the government department in October that places greater constraints on the earmarking of sensitive Green Belt locations for new housing.

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Previously it was felt that national policy and guidance was compelling councils to look at revising Green Belt boundaries to meet housing need.

Guildford council is now planning to reassess all it proposed development sites against the constraints highlighted in the updated guidance issued in October.

A spokesperson for the Harpenden Green Belt Society said there seemed to be no reason why St Albans council should not do the same as Guildford was doing as they were subject to the same planning guidance.

And he said that the society would be asking the spatial planning team at the council what they intended to do in light of the changed planning guidance and the Guildford decision.

Have your say on the ongoing debate about building on Harpenden’s Green Belt - email hertsad@archant.co.uk or write to the address on page 2. Please include your full contact details.