1,000 homes planned for Harpenden

The land proposed for development.

The land proposed for development. - Credit: Archant

A famous Harpenden research lab is proposing to build up to 1,000 homes on land by the River Ver.

Rothamsted Research, working with Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT), are suggesting the fields to the north east of Redbourn, between the A5183 and Harpenden Lane/Dunstable Road for development as part of the St Albans district council (SADC) new Local Plan (LP).

They are fields currently known as Black Horse, Bylands, Meadow, Osier and Ver.

The proposal would lift the number of local homes to a level that could potentially support a secondary school and increased primary provision.

LAT chief executive, Peter Oxley, said: “As one of the largest employers in the area, we are acutely aware of the shortage of affordable housing, not only for our own staff, but also for key workers locally, such as teachers and nurses.

“We hope that our plan, in consultation with the local community, can go part way to addressing that need, with our intention being that any potential development would seek to include a good proportion of social and affordable housing, as well as potential for self-build homes.”

He added: “The trust has historic links with the area stretching back some 175 years. We want to be part of a sustainable future that keeps the area attractive to young people seeking high quality jobs and to local people who want to strengthen their community close to home.”

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Although St Albans’ LP includes provision for 15,000 new homes before 2036 - a target set by the Government - the council has asked landowners across the district to offer up sites to help accommodate development.

Director and chief executive of Rothamsted Research, Achim Dobermann, sees the proposal as a potentially important step to ensure the long-term future of the institute: “Income from this development, through the LAT, would allow Rothamsted Research to do more of its strategic research on the future of farming in the UK and worldwide.”

He added: “Pressures on funding and research grants continue. We need to consider all options to safeguard the continued sustainability and success of Rothamsted Research.

“We want to ensure that whatever we do provides benefits not only in terms of finance for ourselves, but also significant benefits for the Redbourn and St Albans communities as well, by doing this in a way that results in mutual benefits.”

LAT has supported and funded Rothamsted Research ever since Sir John Bennet Lawes set it up in 1889.

The St Albans LP is currently out for public consultation - view and comment on the plans by February 21 at www.stalbans.gov.uk/planning/thelocalplan.aspx