London Colney fly-tipping blight

Piles of rubbish at Napsbury Park site annoys resident

A DERELICT site next to a playground in a leafy part of London Colney is an eyesore which is encouraging fly-tipping in the area, a resident has claimed.

Steve Greenwood, of Napsbury Park, has called on St Albans district council (SADC) to investigate the overgrown site, citing health and safety concerns as the derelict plot, near Strawberry Crescent and Norris Close, could attract vermin.

He has also asked the property owner to demolish derelict Connolly House, a former nurses’ house at the site, put up secure fencing to deter fly-tipping and vandalism, and clear away piles of dumped rubbish, including sofas, mattresses and building material.

Steve said: “It’s horrible. The fencing is being smashed in, it’s a dumping ground and an eyesore. I can’t think of a less attractive site in St Albans than this one.

“It’s a dangerous site. I’m worried about trees catching fire. I would like proper, more attractive fencing. It devalues this part of Napsbury in general.”

Richard Biddlecombe, chairman of Napsbury Park Residents Association, has called on SADC to show more support for development of the land.

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He added: “If planning could be a little more flexible then the property could be built out and this eyesore, which attracts minor vandalism and anti-social behaviour, would no longer exist.”

Osman Ismail, who has owned the property since 2002, agreed the site was an eyesore. Osman added, however, that it has been difficult to get appropriate planning permission.

He originally wanted to build terraced houses for key workers but SADC said a nursing home would be preferable.

Osman then obtained the go-ahead for a 20-bed care home but was unable to have those plans come to fruition as nursing home operators told him it would be too small to be economically viable.

So he submitted a scheme for a 41-bed home but that was knocked back for being too big for the footprint.

Osman said: “This has been a very long, expensive and frustrating process. The current position is that we have a permission that we can do nothing with.”

“It is too small to be commercially viable and the number of conditions on the permission make it impossible to demolish the current building without discharging those conditions, which are themselves subject to planning.”

An application is being made to discharge the conditions as much as possible and if that is successful Osman can demolish the building.

In the meantime, he has instructed a maintenance person to fix the fencing.

A spokeswoman for SADC said the site had constraints because it was in the Green Belt and conservation area. However, this year, planning permission for a 20-bed care home was renewed.

She added: “The district council’s advice has been consistent and we have tried to engage with the developers and resolve the council’s planning concerns to avoid the more costly route to taxpayers.”

SADC can use its planning powers to ask landowners to take action when conditions adversely affect the appearance of an area, such as incidents of fly-tipping.