Sainsbury’s eyes up land for development in St Albans district

The Colney fields site

The Colney fields site - Credit: Archant

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is keen for Green Belt land to be released for expansion between its store and the River Colne in London Colney.

The Colney fields site

The Colney fields site - Credit: Archant

The supermarket chain has urged district planners not to limit extension of the village’s Colney Fields shopping centre, as there are a lack of viable sites in the centre of St Albans for major retail development over the next two decades.

Hundreds of comments have been submitted in response to the district council’s recent consultation on its draft planning blueprint for future development, the Strategic Local Plan (SLP).

Indigo, planning consultants engaged by Sainsbury’s to submit representations on the plan, took issue with the council referring to its preference for ‘limited’ extension of Colney Fields – the location of one of Sainsbury’s three large food stores in the district.

The firm said: “Clearly, Colney Fields is an appropriate location to meet retail need and the plan should support its further development rather than limit its extension.”

With the council’s SLP identifying four broad locations in the Green Belt for new mixed-use and principally housing development, to provide about 4,000 new homes in future, Indigo wants to add a fifth potential site.

Pointing out that the council has acknowledged it cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing, the firm suggested it “should support additional growth at London Colney and identify further sites to be released from the Green Belt for development.

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“In particular, the 4.6-hectare of land north-west of Colney Fields shopping park forms a logical extension to the existing settlement and should be identified as a location for new development.”

The site is located opposite Armstrong Close, between Sainsbury’s car park at the shopping centre and the River Colne.

Although Wheathampstead is excluded from any future Green Belt development, Sainsbury’s says that the “under-developed part of the former Murphy’s Chemical Works site” near the village’s centre should also be identified for development, particularly residential or commercial use.