Oaklands College exhibition for revamp and housing development in St Albans on Friday

Oaklands College has dilapidated buildings

Oaklands College has dilapidated buildings - Credit: Photo supplied

MODERNISING proposals for Oaklands College in St Albans, funded by the development of up to 350 homes on Green Belt land, have gone a step further with housebuilder Taylor Wimpey inviting residents to a public exhibition.

In a controversial move, the college wants to have homes built on agricultural fields off Sandpit Lane despite opposition from neighbouring residents who have voiced concerns about sustainability, lack of infrastructure, and traffic problems.

Oaklands has previously said that freeing up its land for housing would help pay for the £50 million redevelopment of its dilapidated Smallford campus in Hatfield Road.

The college has teamed up with Taylor Wimpey to push ahead with the scheme and is hosting two public exhibitions early next month to give people the chance to see and comment on its initial plans.

A further exhibition is due to take place in the spring, and feedback received during the course of both consultations will be used to help refine the proposals before a formal planning application is submitted to St Albans district council at a later date.

A spokeswoman for No Oaklands Housing Action Group (NOHAG), which fears urban sprawl and coalescence between St Albans and neighbouring Hatfield, said locals should attend the public exhibition to see exactly what is planned.

She said: “We welcome the fact that Oaklands College is providing an opportunity for the local community to view their housing development proposals and would encourage residents to attend the consultation sessions and have their say.

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“A development of this scale and in the proposed location will have a wide-ranging impact on the local area, particularly in view of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s plans to build up to 2,000 homes on the other side of Coopers Green Lane.

“However, the consultation will enable local people to make an informed judgement, based on the plans and to put their views to Oaklands, the developers, councillors and the planning department.”

College principal Zoe Hancock said: “Some of the existing facilities at our St Albans campus are in urgent need of modernisation and significant investment is required to allow us to deliver an evolving curriculum.

“The college is not looking to expand – just bring our outdated facilities up to date – and the only way to generate the minimum funding needed to achieve this is by making part of the site available for residential development.”

She added: “Having enjoyed a successful working relationship with Taylor Wimpey in the past, we are well aware of the company’s credentials and we believe the housebuilder is the ideal candidate to help us bring this project forward.”

Bill Beyzade, Taylor Wimpey’s land and planning director, said the company’s proposed residential development would “fulfil a need for more high-quality homes in the local area and enhance the community for the benefit of everyone”.

The exhibition will be held at Oaklands from 10am to 8pm this Friday, March 1, and from 10am to 1pm on Saturday, March 2.