100 homes approved at appeal for Green Belt land

The development site off Bullers Green Lane.

The development site off Bullers Green Lane. - Credit: Google

A development of 100 houses on Green Belt land between St Albans and Welwyn Hatfield has been granted permission at appeal.

A government inspector has given the go-ahead for the scheme at Roundhouse Farm, off Bullens Green Lane, Colney Heath, despite opposition from both neighbouring councils.

The proposed access to the site off Bullens Green Lane falls within the jurisdiction of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and the western part of the site abutting Roestock Park and the pumping station comes under the remit of SADC.

Both councils gave similar objections relating to the suitability of the location, character and appearance, highways, ecology, archaeology, impacts on local infrastructure and services, Green Belt and heritage matters.

The scheme involves up to 100 homes, including 45 per cent affordable and 10 per cent self-build, but was deemed to have only a limited impact on the integrity of the wider Green Belt. Because both councils were unable to demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable homes, the inspector considered the provision of local housing would be boosted by this scheme.

He concluded that the housing benefits, when considered collectively, demonstrated very special circumstances to outweigh the harms to Green Belt openness and character and appearance of the area and justified inappropriate development in this case.

Cllr Chris White, chair of the policy committee with responsibility for planning on St Albans district council, said: “I find it extraordinary that this appeal has been allowed.

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“We were ready to refuse permission - and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council had already done so - on the grounds that the proposed development is on protected Green Belt land.

“I’m surprised that decision has been overturned and we will now be examining all the implications of the inspector’s ruling.

“What is clear is that it emphasises the importance of the steps we’re now taking to put in place a new Local Plan that will identify what land we believe is suitable for future housing, commercial and infrastructure development.

“This will ensure that decisions on these crucial issues are taken by democratically elected representatives rather than people from outside our community.”

A spokesperson for Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council said: "We have only just received this appeal decision. The decision is disappointing and we are currently reviewing it to understand any implications going forward.”