New homes on industrial estate are 'disaster waiting to happen'

How the new homes in London Road are expected to look

How the new homes in London Road are expected to look - Credit: Oakford Homes

Dozens of new homes will be built in a St Albans industrial estate despite warnings the development is a  “disaster waiting to happen”.

Oakford Homes applied to redevelop the land at 222 London Road to provide nine apartments and 23 houses, with a promise to help relocate business currently on the land.

However, residents raised concerns about the impact on the existing homes in the area, as well as issues surrounding access onto the site.

St Albans District Council granted planning permission to the scheme at a meeting of the council’s Planning Referrals Committee on December 20.

During the meeting, a statement from a resident of Orient Close was read out, which said the new development would affect the privacy of those living in existing homes, and the new proposals were “too big, too high, too dense, too many houses and it is clearly not in keeping with the neighbourhood".

Addressing the committee, Councillor Emma Matanle (Liberal Democrat, Sopwell) also asked the developer to rethink the plans over the lack of affordable housing.

Cllr Matanle also raised concerns about access into London Road, design of the buildings and availability of school places in the area.

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Verulam Golf Club and Beechwood Homes also raised an objection that the development could impact their plans to build houses on adjacent land, which would in turn fund the building of a new club house and museum dedicated to the Ryder Cup. 

During the debate, Councillor Geoff Harrison (Liberal Democrat, Cunningham) said his main issue was with traffic getting onto the site, and he “could not believe” the county council had not objected, given development is also planned for adjacent sites.

Cllr Harrison added it is “a disaster waiting to happen”.

Hertfordshire County Council’s Highways team did not raise an objection to the plans, so officers warned councillors they would not be able to use concerns about access to justify a refusal of the plans.

The applicant’s agent David Lane of DLA Town Planning said it was a “carefully considered” development on a brownfield site.

Mr Lane added it had the “potential to bring out the best of the site”, which had been included in the council’s local plan. He added that an independent review had confirmed that the inclusion of affordable housing would make the scheme unviable, because of “higher than usual” costs associated with the development.

The 23 homes will all be three-bedroom houses, with six one-bedroom flats and three two-bedroom flats.

Ahead of the meeting, officers had recommended councillors approve the plans, saying the benefits of new homes on a brownfield site would outweigh the impact on neighbours, and the plan had been earmarked for development in the council’s Local Plan.

Councillors also noted that development would improve the current site, as well as contributing to housing numbers in the district.

Members of the planning committee voted in favour of the proposals by nine votes to one.

Planning permission was granted subject to conditions, including a Section 106 agreement which will see the developers provide a contribution towards education and childcare services.

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