Herts Ad Comment: Back to normal after election?

PUBLISHED: 09:55 16 June 2017

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office

Archant

The country may be in a state of turmoil following the shock result of last week's General Election, but here in the St Albans district things seem to be getting back to normal.

We’re once again witnessing a developer’s latest attempt to build thousands of homes on prime countryside, as the Crown Estate’s updated scheme goes out to public consultation.

The big cat seems to be back from its holidays, and appears to have taken up golf in the meantime, if our latest sighting is anything to go by.

And of course our plucky citizens are back doing what they do best - supporting charitable causes through amazing acts of stamina, grit and determination. Where would we be without their valiant efforts?

But these stories aside, it’s next week that will see one of the most important decisions to affect the district in recent years finally made at the High Court.

The long-awaited judicial review into the council’s Strategic Local Plan may very well get underway on Wednesday, and the outcome could shape all of our futures for decades to come.

The district council is challenging claims it has failed to sufficiently cooperate with neighbouring councils when preparing the SLP planning document, following a damning report by planning inspector David Hogger last November.

SADC has applied to the High Court for permission to seek a judicial review of the inspector’s decision, warning it would otherwise result in the withdrawal of the SLP.

Permission to apply for the review will be considered at an oral hearing on Wednesday, and if granted, the substantive hearing will take place immediately afterwards.

If the review goes against the district council, not only will it have incurred massive legal fees at the taxpayers’ expense, but the very future of the SLP will then be in jeopardy.

We may find that the government steps in to impose its own vision for housing growth in the district, which could prove disastrous.

The decisions made over the SLP and its relationship with neighbouring councils came within the sphere of former council leader Julian Daly, but it’s his successor Alec Campbell who will be left picking up the pieces should the final decision go against St Albans next week.

In his inaugural speech to the full council Cllr Campbell said he was confident of overcoming existing obstacles and making progress on this vital issue. Whether he still thinks the same after next week’s hearing remains to be seen...

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