Oaklands College 348-home scheme in St Albans Green Belt rejected

PUBLISHED: 20:10 01 December 2014

Looking from the Verulam School playing fields onto the Oaklands College land with Sandpit Lane running along the bottom of the field

Looking from the Verulam School playing fields onto the Oaklands College land with Sandpit Lane running along the bottom of the field

Archant

An ambitious attempt to build nearly 350 homes in St Albans Green Belt to help fund the redevelopment of a local college has tonight (Monday) been turned down by councillors.

At a St Albans district council planning referrals committee meeting, Oaklands College was told that no special circumstances existed to warrant taking land out of the Green Belt to construct 348 new homes.

The scheme was rejected in line with a recommendation from planning officers.

Oaklands, together with housebuilders Taylor Wimpey, had sought approval to build the houses on agricultural fields near playing fields off Sandpit Lane, to help pay for a major overhaul of dilapidated educational facilities at the college’s Smallford campus, off Hatfield Road.

Hundreds of objections were sent to the district council; many concerned with the additional traffic pressures such a housing development would bring to the surrounding area as a result of its access from Sandpit Lane.

Other issues included its Green Belt location, the increased burden on school places and infrastructure.

However, the site is one of four included in the draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP) - the council’s planning blueprint - which is being mooted as possibly being taken out of the Green Belt for housing development should that become necessary in the future.

In its objection, St Albans Civic Society, pointed out that the application was premature pending the adoption of a SLP and argued that the financial position of Oaklands College was no planning justification for overturning Green Belt policy.

There were those who submitted their support of the scheme, though, describing it as a “wonderful initiative” as the college is an important local amenity.

For more on this story, see this week’s Herts Advertiser.

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