Herts Ad Comment: Judging the impact of increased housing allocation

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

The sheer scale of the housing demand which has been placed squarely at the feet of St Albans council beggars belief.

If you thought it was a lot to ask when the district was expected to build an average of 450 new houses a year, that figure has now more than doubled to 913.

As we have highlighted many times, the current predicament faced by the council is the consequence of years of procrastination over the Local Plan by politicians of all parties.

But the shortcomings of the past aside, what we really have to contemplate now is an unprecedented level of growth which will transform the district forever.

So what does the future hold? The Green Belt as we know it is unlikely to survive.

Residents of Harpenden and the surrounding villages should brace themselves for major developments on their doorsteps, and St Albans itself will face further coalescence with neighbouring communities in Hatfield and Hemel.

It’s a grim picture to paint, but for those people desperately in need of affordable homes in the area, it could be their only opportunity to get a foot on the housing ladder.

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Whether you consider that benefit outweighs the loss of some less desirable parts of the Green Belt (and there are plenty of those!) is something you will have to decide for yourselves.

But as things stand none of our children or grandchildren stand a cat in hell’s chance of buying their own home anywhere near St Albans or Harpenden without substantial input from the Bank of Mum and Dad, and will be forced to look further and further afield as time progresses.

If you look at this initiative positively, then it marks a once in a generation opportunity to redefine the district for the next century, providing any housing is accompanied by suitable infrastructure to meet its needs.

We don’t want to see decisions rushed, but by the same reckoning don’t want a repeat of the years of debate which have surrounded the Local Plan in all of its various guises.

Our elected officials have a momentous task ahead of them, the legacy of which will either see them vilified or lauded in years to come. We can only hope they are up to the job.