Hertsmere housing plan condemned by district council

Cllr Chris White, leader of SADC, at the recent meeting of the Local Plan advisory group.

Cllr Chris White, leader of SADC, at the recent meeting of the Local Plan advisory group. - Credit: SADC

London Colney could "grind to a halt" under plans to build 6,000 homes on its doorstep, St Albans council leaders have warned.

Hertsmere borough council 's draft Local Plan, which outlines development in the borough between 2022 and 2038, requires 12,160 new homes to be built between 2022 and 2038 to meet their housing target.

The plan suggests 2,400 of those homes built in the new settlement of Bowmans Cross, on the border between Hertsmere and St Albans within the plan’s period  – with an additional 3,600 homes also expected on the land before 2050.

At a meeting of St Albans district council’s Local Plan advisory group on Tuesday, council leader Chris White and opposition group leader Mary Maynard both expressed worries about the development.

Cllr White also criticised Hertsmere council, saying he had not received a briefing on the plan since last December, despite the progress being made.

He also raised concerns about the lack of detail about how the road network would be able to cope with an estimated 15,000 extra people.

An approximate outline of where the Bowmans Cross development would be built.

An approximate outline of where the Bowmans Cross development would be built. - Credit: Google

Cllr White said: ”We have this finger of development, half of Hertsmere’s development, basically stuck between two St Albans villages who have been noting and indeed complaining for some time, with massive reason, the roads and the entire network is already incredibly stressed.

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“And yet I haven’t heard anything which says ‘we will construct major new distributor roads’, you haven’t even mentioned the county council’s idea for a mass rapid transit scheme.

“We hear about schools, which is good, we hear about healthcare which is good, but we don’t hear about the key issue as far as I see it, which is that the whole area is going to grind to a halt.”

Hertsmere’s officer said that this work was still ongoing, but noted that there would be more ‘internalisation’ of trips within the new settlement, because new facilities will be included within the development.

However, this was rubbished by the council leader who said that residents of a new settlement will be working across Hertfordshire, rather than within Bowmans Cross.

Cllr Maynard also raised issues with the amount of education and healthcare provision included, as well as asking what steps would be taken to avoid damage to trees and wildlife in the area.

She said: “The schools in St Albans are notoriously full, the new ones which we will build will just be built for the new building, and will not be able to accommodate any other children, so what are you going to do in terms of providing adequate education for children who live on that site?”

“Associated with that is health. You’re not showing any GP surgery and in fact you have produced literature which says you intend people on that site to use a GP surgery in London Colney.

“The GP surgery in London Colney serves 15,000 people and is at max [capacity], so what are you going to do about health provision on the site?”

Planning policy and transport manager at Hertsmere borough council, Mark Silverman, said four primary schools and one secondary school are included in the plans, with two reserve sites also included, if necessary.

He added that a new health facility is also now on the cards, and is planned for within the overall masterplan of the site.

The council were unable to say how many jobs would be created on the new site at this stage of planning, but over 15,000 sqm of commercial space would be included in the development.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, SADC will now submit an official response to the consultation as part of a requirement for council’s to co-operate during the process.

The Section 18 public consultation runs until December 6, before the council will then make any necessary adjustments before publishing a second plan, expected in the spring.

The borough council has said that following submission for public examination late next year, and without any major delays, the new Local Plan could be adopted in 2023.