Green Belt homes for key workers scheme faces refusal

The Addison Park plans for St Stephens Green Farm and the site of St Albans Polo Club.

The Addison Park plans for St Stephens Green Farm and the site of St Albans Polo Club. - Credit: Addison Park

Plans to build 330 affordable homes for key workers on the St Albans Green Belt face being rejected.

The proposals by Addison Pak were for housing on St Stephens Green Farm and the site of St Albans Polo Club, and would be earmarked for key workers rather than the general market.

Officers from the district council (SADC) have recommended councillors refuse the plans next week, citing concerns about the size of the development within the green space.

Addison Park said the scheme is a “private enterprise promoted by a private individual determined to deliver genuinely affordable homes for key workers when no-one else seems able to” with the space donated by the landowners.

According to the plans, the homes would predominantly be available through Shared Ownership with a discount of a third on the usual market value.

According to its planning application: “In one of the most expensive parts of the country, the scheme will deliver 'affordable routes to home ownership' to military personnel and local key workers such as the nurses at St Albans, Watford and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, the teachers at our primary and secondary schools, the childcare workers based in Apsley, the police officers who keep our streets safe and the firefighters who rush to our aid.

“So, whilst the council focuses on the most vulnerable in society, Addison Park focuses on the most valuable.”

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The developers outlined a housing max comprising 32 one-bedroom, 116 two-bedroom and 182 three-bedroom homes on the development.

A planning statement acknowledged the damage to the Green Belt, but argued that the benefits of the proposals and the contribution towards affordable housing would outweigh those concerns.

However, locals and officers haven’t seen the plans in the same way with objections from 359 addresses in St Albans, as well as objections from the Campaign to Protect Rural England and St Albans Civic Society.

The objections include concerns about the development not meeting the threshold of Very Special Circumstances to build on the Green Belt, the loss of countryside and a lack of infrastructure.

Other objections also take aim at the affordable aspect of the housing itself, saying that the housing would not be truly affordable for key workers and questioning whether the homes would sell for market value if key workers weren’t interested.

Council officers are also unconvinced about the scheme, and have recommended councillors reject the plans. Their reasons for refusal include the development constituting inappropriate development on the Green Belt, a lack of a Section 106 legal agreement to fund local services and the number of dwellings in an area with limited access to public transport.

Councillors will have a final say on the plans at a meeting of the planning referrals committee on Monday.