‘No justification to increase district’s urban footprint’ - say St Albans residents

Green Belt land in the St Albans district

Green Belt land in the St Albans district - Credit: Archant

St Albans’ Green Belt should not be shrunk, say hundreds of locals responding to a survey.

But, while the vast majority of respondents to a consultation on the future shape of St Albans oppose any reduction of the Green Belt, unsurprisingly developers and some landowners are keen to see expansion.

A report to the recent St Albans district council’s planning policy committee shows that opinion is divided over plans to stretch the district’s urban footprint onto the Green Belt.

About three-quarters of those responding to the authority’s consultation on its draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP) dispute there being any exceptional circumstances to warrant altering Green Belt boundaries.

Of the 544 replies to a question on possible boundary changes, 74 per cent said there was no justification to do so.

And close to 10 per cent urged the council to consider the use of brownfield sites instead.

But a similar percentage said the need for additional housing justified building on our green spaces.

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There were eight interest groups, including Harpenden Green Belt Association and Redbourn Against Green Belt Erosion, which said there were no exceptional circumstances to justify development.

Yet 24 home builders, developers and landowners said there was a pressing housing need, with most adding that the council also needed to investigate and consider using brownfield sites.

Councillors at the committee meeting were asked whether, in light of the findings, the draft SLP would be revised to exclude development on the Green Belt.

The council’s spatial planning manager Chris Briggs replied that once all the consultation results had been analysed, a planning policy committee meeting in June would further consider whether exceptional circumstances existed to warrant such expansion.