London Colney village green bid rejected

Councillors Dreda Gordon and Jacob Quagliozzi in front of the Thamesdale village green which is to b

Councillors Dreda Gordon and Jacob Quagliozzi in front of the Thamesdale village green which is to be turned into housing - Credit: Archant

A BID to preserve a much-loved open space by turning it into a village green has been rejected.

That is despite London Colney parish council spearheading efforts to have the parcel of land at Thamesdale, about one-fifth of an acre, gain village green status as a significant number of local residents have used it for sports and recreation for at least 20 years.

Herts county council (HCC) rejected the village green bid, confirming residents’ fears that the green space at Thamesdale – which they had tried to protect from diggers – will be taken from them for housing.

HCC had kept villagers on tenterhooks over the future status of the piece of land, infuriating residents by delaying a decision for several months.

Developer Matthew Homes bought land at Thamesdale in 2008 and received approval to build flats on the open space on appeal in 2010.

But the parish council then lodged an application with HCC for the land to gain village green status, to protect it from housing.

The county council’s development control committee was originally due to discuss the village green application in December last year, but a decision was delayed until recently.

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In the meantime JCB diggers began excavating the ground for installation of drainage pipes.

The combination of the earthworks and continuous delays by HCC annoyed local residents, with parish council chairman Cllr Ian Orton saying earlier this year that people were “furious and fear that by the time of the committee [meeting] the green space will be gone forever”.

A spokesman for HCC said the committee rejected the application because evidence submitted in support of it did not meet legal criteria but did not offer any further explanation.

St Albans district councillor for London Colney Jacob Quagliozzi said: “People are very, very disappointed and feel that the county council is very remote from them.

“Residents did a lot of work to have that village green status but unfortunately the council didn’t listen.”