Questions over number of bedrooms at St Albans convent development

Maryland Convent on Townsend Drive

Maryland Convent on Townsend Drive - Credit: Archant

Proposals to demolish a former convent and build retirement flats have come in for a second wave of criticism following close inspection from eagle-eyed residents.

Plans for the re-development of Maryland Convent in Townsend Drive, St Albans, initially caused a stir in November, with residents opposing the plans for one and two bedroom retirement flats.

The concerns were rooted in the size and character of the proposed buildings and the impact on traffic flow.

But the plans, put forward by Beechcroft Developments Ltd, have generated further opposition because of fears the buildings might now include flats and houses with three bedrooms too.

Colin Hassel, of Townsend Drive, said: “Now that some of the residents have had a chance to look at the drawings accompanying the application we can’t help but notice there are rather a lot of ‘extra rooms’, some with en-suite facilities, showers and toilets.

He continued: “The developer seems to be trying to confuse both the public and the council planning department.”

In addition, Beechcroft Developments’ website is advertising ‘two and three-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom houses’, despite presenting an application for one and two bedroom flats and cottages.

Most Read

Another nearby resident Peter Wilson-Leary, also of Townsend Drive, has raised further issues with the application.

He said: “This misrepresentation over the nature of the development also has implications for Beechcroft’s financial obligation to community services [Section 106 payment], which is calculated by dwelling size and occupancy.

“The council has arrived at a figure based, erroneously, on one and two-bed flats, not three-bed properties.”

He also raised concerns about the St Albans district council’s planning application process.

Peter continued: “Even if the factual misrepresentation of plans is not a material planning consideration, which is quite shameful because of the influence it can have on the outcome of a consultation process, the council has a duty of care to its residents to ensure that process is an accurate reflection of what a proposed development will entail.

“In the circumstances, the consultation cannot be considered anything but flawed.”

Tracy Harvey, St Albans council’s head of planning and building control, said: “Residents have sent us comments on the issue of additional rooms and other matters. They can still do so.

“In considering the application, the council will take into careful account the views of residents including any concerns about the number of habitable rooms. The application has been referred to a Planning Committee for a decision.”

Beechcroft did not respond to the Herts Advertiser’s request for comment.