Homes to be built on former youth club site in St Albans

View of the existing Sopwell Youth Centre building from the footpath. Picture: Planning application

View of the existing Sopwell Youth Centre building from the footpath. Picture: Planning application submitted by St Albans district council - Credit: Archant

Plans for seven homes on the site of a former youth club in Sopwell have been given the go-ahead by councillors in St Albans.

As part of the proposal the disused Sopwell Youth Centre, off Cottonmill Lane, will be demolished, and the triangular site - which runs alongside the Abbey Line railway - will be used for the development of seven three-bed properties.

The application was granted by a meeting of the council's planning referrals committee on Monday.

The site will be given a new access from Cottonmill Lane and landscaped, and a new enclosure will be built around the existing electricity substation.

Network Rail had raised concerns about the impact the development could have on the nearby Cottonmill Lane level crossing, and asked the council to consider the increase in the number of users, including vulnerable users.

They also requested a number of conditions, including straightening the crossing, installing new fencing, improving the gates so they self-close properly, and renewing the crossing surface, which they said should be bright yellow in the danger zone.

However council officers said the request was not fair or reasonable given the size of the development, and they said the development of seven dwellings is 'less intensive' than the previous use.

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During the meeting London Colney Cllr Katherine Gardner said she was very concerned that in accepting the proposal the council would be going against the advice of Network Rail.

She said: "It seems to me very unwise, if they are recommending additional safety proposals, that we go against the professional's recommendation around rail safety on a level crossing where it is known there is potential for accidents."

However Sandridge Cllr Frances Leonard said she found the demands of Network Rail "quite extraordinary", however she also raised concerns about the amount of living space and outside space in the layout of the proposed properties.

Cllr Geoff Harrison, of Cunningham ward, questioned whether the youth centre should be removed at all, but was told Herts county council had indicated that there was no need for the facility in this part of the district.