Harpenden unites against plans for 300 new homes

PUBLISHED: 20:01 15 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

THE prospect of hundreds of new homes being built on a Green Belt site in Harpenden has brought the town together in protest. The town council, Harpenden Society and the Green Belt Association are all urging residents to object to the development of farml

THE prospect of hundreds of new homes being built on a Green Belt site in Harpenden has brought the town together in protest.

The town council, Harpenden Society and the Green Belt Association are all urging residents to object to the development of farmland to the north of the town with 300 new homes.

The site, bordered by Luton Road and Ambrose Lane, is included as an Area of Search in the draft core strategy for the council's planning blueprint, the Local Development Framework (LDF).

It is a site which has already been considered once when looking at housing numbers in the district but was rejected two years ago.

Harpenden town clerk John Bagshaw stressed that his council supported St Albans council in its opposition to any housing development in the Green Belt. But he maintained that the district council wanted to, "run with the hare and the hounds" by including the farmland in the core strategy.

He went on: "We feel the integrity of the town will be compromised and we are very suspicious about the credibility of that site because the infrastructure is not there."

Mr Bagshaw also pointed to the current pressure on local schools which would be exacerbated by 300 extra homes and the impact on local roads. "It is fairly obvious these people would not want to walk into the town centre or the railway station which would put huge pressure on the road network," he said.

He said the town council was trying to understand why the farmland had been singled out while other areas in St Albans were being resisted.

And he added: "We are mindful that we can't put our heads in the sand and there is increasing pressure on the land base around the county but it seems a bit extreme that we are looking at farmland where, perhaps, other areas of the Green Belt are not."

District and town councillor Bert Pawle said the main concern was the Green Belt location but there was also a problem of coalescence with Luton, the borders with which were close by.

He added: "In the core strategy it says nothing is likely to happen until post 2026 but we fear it could happen earlier."

St Albans council's planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, said the council had looked at three distinctive areas of St Albans, the north, south and west, to ascertain what sites in the Green Belt could be suitable for housing development while still protecting the character of an area.

But he stressed that the council did not want to develop housing in the Green Belt which was why people were being encouraged to protest if they did not want a site included.


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