Inquiry into major Green Belt scheme for 138 homes in St Albans

An entrance to Hanstead Park

An entrance to Hanstead Park - Credit: Archant

A planning inspector will determine a 138-home scheme after it was turned down for failing to provide adequate affordable housing and for being detrimental to the Green Belt.

Hanstead Park

Hanstead Park - Credit: Archant

On Tuesday, February 9, a five-day inquiry will start in the St Albans council chamber to determine the proposed redevelopment of Hanstead Park, Smug Oak Lane, the site of the former HSBC management training college.

Steve Taylor, a director of developers St Congar Land, asked the district council for outline planning approval to redevelop the Green Belt area, so 129 new homes could be built, along with garages, following demolition of existing buildings.

St Congar Land also sought the go-ahead to transform the Old Lodge into a home, and refurbish and extend Hansted House, to provide eight additional homes and garaging.

The 20-hectare application site is to the east of Bricket Wood, with the wider land holding extending to about 75 hectares.

Hanstead Park

Hanstead Park - Credit: Archant

Hanstead House is a substantial detached former manor house – to the east of the building is a formal garden that is included on the Herts list of parks and gardens of importance. The Yule Mausoleum, a Grade II listed building, is within the garden.

The application, which was refused in March last year, was a resubmission following the refusal of a previous bid in 2014.

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In its decision, the council explained it had refused the scheme because of an “absence of” affordable housing; it being detrimental to the openness and character of the Green Belt, and for a lack of a completed and signed S106 planning agreement to contribute to or provide for educational requirements, affordable housing, leisure and open space, highway and footway improvement works.

But the developers, in their appellants statement of case for the Secretary of State, said that St Congar could not meet the suggested 35 per cent affordable housing planning obligation as it was not financially viable.

However 13 affordable homes could be built on the site - 9.4 per cent of the total - “and remain financially viable”.

St Congar stated that with regard to building in the Green Belt, the proposed development “could be accommodated on the application site without increasing the overall amount of footprint and volume over the existing development.”