Petition against Bricket Wood homes plans

CONCERNED residents have presented a petition urging the district council to drop plans to allow 150 homes to be built in their village.

Residents of Bricket Wood fear such a major development on land currently owned by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) will have a detrimental effect on the community.

Laurie Hart, chairman of the Bricket Wood Residents’ Association (BWRA), told last week’s full St Albans district council meeting that it was a “change of use, inappropriate and unacceptable” and the construction of 150 homes on the site would close the gap between Garston and Bricket Wood.

He added: “It will change the character of our village forever and would become part of the urban sprawl by coalescing with Garston. We will lose our strong sense of community.”

It took the association just a few days to gain about 520 signatures for the petition, presented to council in response to its draft Core Strategy, which maps out the future shape of the district for the next 17 years.

The document is now closed to public consultation, with feedback currently being examined to help the council determine how best to plan ahead for future development.

Mr Hart said that while residents had no issue with retaining BRE as a place of local employment, “we strongly object to any part of the site being proposed for housing.

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“We are very concerned about the possibility of a considerable increase in the number of vehicles. We understand housing is a problem for the district, but we don’t believe Bricket Wood should be sacrificed to solve it.”

In a letter accompanying the petition BWRA said residents thought it was “out of order” to describe the BRE site as developed and therefore, “justifiable in proposing a change of use to a residential development.”

In its response to the draft core strategy the association described the proposal to build 150 homes at the site as controversial, warning the council that: “Development of housing on [the] BRE site would mean the loss of valuable employment land and reduced employment opportunities of BRE and other employers on the site.

“As far as we are aware most of the buildings on the BRE site are being used and a significant number of Bricket Wood residents work there.”

It explained that the BRE, “has been in a privileged situation over many years where extensive building has been permitted that would not normally have been allowed in the Green Belt.

“They should not be able to take advantage (for housing) of the footprint that has been accumulated under their very special circumstances.”