Planning for St Albans’ future: Infrastructure needs to support new housing

St Albans City and District Council has been looking at future infrastructure needs

St Albans City and District Council has been looking at future infrastructure needs - Credit: Archant

Residential growth over the next two decades in St Albans will have to be supported by the provision of additional doctors, schools and road improvement measures, a report recommends.

An infrastructure delivery plan was recently prepared as part of St Albans district council’s draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP) process, to help set out what is needed to cope with this area’s projected expansion up to 2031.

The plan suggests that 436 homes should be built each year over the next two decades.

The infrastructure report says:

• There is an overall clinical space deficit for current patient registrations across the district. It is estimated that SLP housing growth will require up to an additional 10 full time GPs, and 1,868 sq m of surgery floor space.

• Residential growth will result in increasing pressure on strategic health services. But, over the period to 2025 there is likely to be a reduction in acute infrastructure, as patients will be “actively managed” in the community.

• West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which provides acute healthcare services at St Albans City, Watford General and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, intends centralising and rationalising service provision.

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• Health and social care providers across West Herts are undertaking a ‘Your Care, Your Future’ strategic review, which looks to initiate a shift of services out of hospital and into the community, with a proposed reduction of 40 per cent in hospital trips by 2024. One of the shortlisted options is to deliver the majority of planned care and complex diagnostics at St Albans City Hospital.

• The review also plans to develop hubs across West Herts, to support community provision of such care, looking at four initial sites including Harpenden.

• The district is likely to need an estimated additional 3,756 general needs and specialised units for older people, including care home places, extra care and sheltered housing.

• It is estimated that, using the pupil yield calculation of 1FE per 500 homes, that housing growth in St Albans over the next two decades will require up to 16FE to be delivered. The council supports the expansion of existing schools “in principle” as they are cost effective and reduces the need for new schools in Green Belt locations.

• Herts county council (HCC) has indicated that sites for new primary schools may be needed in St Albans City (two schools), Harpenden and London Colney.

• HCC has also identified a need to provide additional secondary school places in Harpenden. The most recent forecast for that town projects a deficit of places from 2015/16 of 2.8FE at Year 7, increasing to 8.3FE from 2019/20.

• The Harpenden Secondary Education Trust gained approval from the Department of Education to establish a new secondary school in Harpenden from September 2017.

• Although the St Albans planning area currently has a small surplus of places, student projections indicate a shortage of places by 2019/20. The proposed Harperbury Free School in the St Albans planning area was originally approved by the Department for Education, and was to have opened in 2014, but this project was recently cancelled by the department.