Just days left to have your say on St Albans district’s future

PUBLISHED: 12:15 21 November 2014 | UPDATED: 15:12 21 November 2014

Looking from the Verulam School playing fields onto the Oaklands College land with Sandpit Lane running along the bottom of the field

Looking from the Verulam School playing fields onto the Oaklands College land with Sandpit Lane running along the bottom of the field


Time is running out for responses to the district council’s draft planning blueprint, the Stratgic Local Plan (SLP).

There are only a few days left to comment on the document which lays down what can be built and where in the St Albans district.

The closing date is this Sunday, November 23, and any feedback in writing will be used to help the council in its decision-making process.

The SLP, which will replace the old St Albans District Plan, proposes several controversial options to take land from the Green Belt for major housing schemes should that become necessary.

Two of the sites are in the heart of the district - land at Oaklands College to the east of St Albans which could take 1,000 homes and a site to the north west of Harpenden where 500 homes could be built.

The largest two sites are in the western part of the district bordered by the M1 and next to Hemel Hempstead where a total of 2,500 homes could be constructed on what would also be economic development land.

Throughout the process, the council has stressed that it does not have a free rein to decide its Local Plan.

It is required to comply with the law and government policy, in particular that related to the National Planning Policy Framework and the Planning Practice Guidance.

A Local Plan must also adhere to planning case law and be based on proportionate and justifiable evidence.

The consultation is not just about housing. It covers a number of other matters for example, infrastructure, retail, leisure, community facilities and industrial/business development.

Council leader and planning portfolio holder, Cllr Julian Daly, said: “The work to develop a Strategic Local Plan is extremely important.The council wants to hear from a representative cross-section of the public to help produce a plan that is right for the next 20 years.

“Difficult decisions need to be made, based on evidence and rational thinking. The draft plan looks to provide around 3,000 affordable homes, meet a need for homes for young families and give older residents somewhere into which to trade down.

“If we can agree a way forward we will be able to protect against overdevelopment. However, if no agreement is possible the district will be vulnerable to development that is unplanned and unwanted.”

As well as the issue of housing sites, the SLP document also looks at infrastructure, retail, leisure, community facilities and industrial/business development.

A copy of the draft SLP and a public information booklet are available on the council’s web portal at www.stalbans.gov.uk/slp.

Printed copies of the information booklet are available through libraries and district, town and parish council offices.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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