Residents’ renewed fight against college’s housing plan for St Albans Green Belt

Land Oaklands College wants to use for housing.

Land Oaklands College wants to use for housing. - Credit: Archant

A residents association has come out fighting in its battle to prevent a major housing scheme being built on Green Belt land in St Albans.

Marshalswick North Residents Association (MNRA) has put its case to the planning inspector who is dealing with an appeal by Oaklands College/Taylor Wimpey North Thames against the district council’s decision to refuse permission for 348 new homes to be built on land south of Sandpit Lane.

The proposal, submitted in 2013, included refurbishment of dilapidated college buildings funded by the building of the new properties, the creation of 643 parking spaces and new accessways.

But the council rejected the bid as inappropriate in the Green Belt, that it would mean the loss of trees on the perimeter of the scheme and the absence of a signed Section 106 agreement which compels developers to make a contribution to infrastructure requirements.

In its submission to the inquiry, which is due to finish tomorrow (20), MNRA contested that very special circumstances had not been demonstrated for the loss of valuable Metropolitan Green Belt land for the housing development.

The residents association claimed that although Oaklands College needed to modernise its facilities, the scheme represented over-development of the site and other funding streams were available.

In addition MNRA contended that the scheme as submitted was totally inappropriate for the area for a number of reasons.

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It would dominate the existing dwellings along Sandpit Lane, create further congestion and pollution along the already busy Sandpit Lane, overwhelm the local primary schools and stretch other resources, such as doctors and parking at shops, beyond reasonable capacity.

MNRA also said that insufficient attention had been paid to alternative means of transport with inadequate footpaths and cycleways and lack of viable proposals for buses to serve the proposed development.

A report on the presentation to the inquiry will be made at the MNRA annual meeting at 8pm next Wednesday, May 25, at Marshalswick Community Centre to which all Marshalswick North residents are invited.

* A proposal for 1,000 new homes on the same site has been included in consultation on the district council’s Strategic Local Plan (SLP) in a bid to meet government housing targets.