Industrial yard redevelopment scheme backed by St Albans councillors

The plans for Cape Road will see new apartments and townhouses built.

The plans for Cape Road will see new apartments and townhouses built. - Credit: Cresswick St Albans

Plans for 37 new homes on the site of a former builders merchant in St Albans have been recommended for approval despite not meeting policy on parking or affordable housing.

The proposals would see the demolition of the existing industrial yard, adjacent to Cape Road, to create space for of 25 apartments and 12 townhouses, but neighbours claim it’s an overdevelopment of the plot.

The plans were submitted to St Albans district council in August from developers Cresswick St Albans, which said the plans would complement the existing area and revitalise the industrial site.

Ashley ward councillors Cllr Iqbal Zia and Cllr Anthony Rowlands have called-in the application to ensure it would be discussed by the council’s planning control committee. 

Their reasons to call in include insufficient parking, public interest in the development and that flats are inappropriate for an area that is primarily housing.

That concern is echoed by 48 objections received from neighbours in relation to the plans, with reasons ranging from a loss of daylight to nearby properties to concerns about an overdevelopment of the site and whether the new units are too small.

Of the new units, there would be four one-bedroom and 21 two-bedroom flats, with three three-bedroom and nine four-bedroom townhouses.

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In their planning statement, the developers said: “Cresswick’s proposal gives St Albans a golden opportunity to utilise the potential of a vacant industrial site and help take pressure off of the area’s beautiful Green Belt to meet its housing target.

“Cresswick’s proposal matches the local authority’s ambition to create a greener and cleaner St Albans. Not only will new tree planting and green space boost biodiversity, their proposal will deliver an energy efficient future for the site”.

Across the units, there would be five affordable houses within the scheme, including three available for affordable rent and two shared ownership units.

This is lower than the 35 per cent usually asked for by the council, but the developers and an independent assessment has found this could make the scheme unviable.

In response to the concerns about parking, the developers have said 41 off-street spaces and 10 on-street spaces will be available for the development. Despite this being below the council’s policy, officers have accepted it is in a sustainable location and haven’t raised an objection to the figure.

Officers are recommending the scheme for approval, noting the site has been identified for housing and the council cannot currently deliver a five year supply of housing.

A report said: “The proposed development would deliver 37 dwellings in a sustainable location and is acceptable in principle. The development is acceptable in terms of its impact upon the local character and appearance and can be adequately landscaped. 

“The proposal would have an acceptable impact upon the amenities of future occupiers and existing occupiers. Adequate car parking is proposed and the Highway Authority raise no objections to the impact on highway safety.”

Councillors will have a final say on the proposals at a meeting of the district council’s development management committee on February 28.