More than 50 per cent of suggested St Albans Local Plan development in the south

River behind Colney Heath High Street

River behind Colney Heath High Street - Credit: Archant

Anxious politicians are worried the south of the district will become a dumping ground for development in the new St Albans Local Plan.

St Stephens area guide.

St Stephens area guide. - Credit: Archant

As part of a consultation at the beginning of the year, St Albans district council (SADC) asked for help to find space for 3,000 extra houses to add to the 5,000 new homes already identified for development in built-up areas.

However, of the total number of hectares submitted by landowners (2,246ha), more than 50 per cent are in the south. That is just over 1,160ha up for development in the parishes of St Stephen, London Colney and Colney Heath.

Notable developments include 140ha spanning St Stephen and London Colney at Harper Green Garden Village, 97ha in Colney Heath on Tyttenhanger’s Highfield Farm, and 119ha in Park Street on the Rail Freight site.

Only 10 per cent (237ha) of the proposed hectares are in Harpenden town, Harpenden rural, or Wheathampstead.

This does not include eight settlements pinpointed by the council, including southern Chiswell Green and London Colney, but also Hemel Hempstead to the west and northern Harpenden.

Chairman of London Colney parish council, Malcolm MacMillan, said: “This is just not on.

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“The public are really concerned that the infrastructure cannot support the development. It would be chaos, absolute chaos. We could not possibly have all these sites.

“It is the same old story, when they need development it always goes in the south. We don’t want to be a dumping ground for development and we will be campaigning against it, behind the scenes and in the open to make sure we don’t have all this development.

“We have already had our share, we have done our bit for homes in the city.”

He noted that not all of the suggested sites will be chosen to be included in the Local Plan.

Herts county councillor for London Colney, Dreda Gordon, said: “We recognise that more homes are needed for families and young people, all sorts of housing, and the answer to that is for more houses to be built.

“The big question is where? I have always recognised that the south should take its share but it should be a fair share - that the other areas take their share too.

“The impact on our infrastructure is huge and there has been a significant amount of development in the south over the last 20 years.”

St Albans residents were overrepresented in the consultation, compared to responses from Harpenden, Redbourn, or other areas. About 60,000 leaflets were delivered to every home in the district notifying them of the consultation.

Vice-chairman of SADC planning policy committee Cllr David Yates said: “It is good that we have had such a response [to the consultation], officers have done a good job.

“But where do we go from here? A lot of the excitement will be about the call for sites - the fact that the large areas are all in the south of the district.

“If they were all chosen, it would be an urban area effectively.”

He believes residents could see a silver lining if enough new houses are built to justify a new secondary school.

The north-south development issue is not new. In 2012 the Herts Ad reported that the development sites being considered for the now-failed Strategic Local Plan were around Smallford, Park Street and Bricket Wood - all in the south.