Herts Ad Comment: Why preserving the status quo is not an option when it comes to Local Plan

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

There was never going to be a fair split of sites proposed by landowners for development in the new St Albans Local Plan, but nobody expected the balance to be so weighted against the south of the district.

According to an investigation by the Herts Advertiser, more than 50 per cent of the amount of total hectares proposed for development are in the parishes of St Stephen, London Colney and Colney Heath.

That compares to just 10 per cent in Harpenden and Wheathampstead combined, a disparity which has inevitably raised the hackles of councillors in the south of the district, who have suggested it could end up becoming “a dumping ground for development”.

Of course nobody is suggesting for one moment that all of these sites will end up being developed, but the inevitability remains that many will, which once again raises questions over the available infrastructure.

After all, if you’re going to build hundreds of new homes in an area then you also need the associated schools, doctors’ surgeries, roads and other associated community facilities.

Ultimately only those development proposals which have the complete package should be considered viable for inclusion in the Local Plan, which will hopefully filter out some of these schemes.

Meanwhile, the result of the much-lauded public consultation into the draft Local Plan revealed that most people don’t want to see homes built on the Green Belt.

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No surprise there then.

Not only did recipients not want to see existing settlements expanded into the Green Belt, they also ruled out the option of new garden villages, Which basically comes down to not building anywhere apart from a few infill sites.

Unfortunately preserving the status quo is an impossibility when you have a district made up of 81 per cent Green Belt, as these new houses have to go somewhere.

There remains an ignorance surrounding the reasons behind the Local Plan and the need for new homes which no amount of publicity is going to overcome.

For some people, the idea of building anywhere is pretty much anathema to them, and the district council will be damned in their eyes no matter what options are chosen in the final plan.