Secretary of State backs new Green Belt housing scheme for Bricket Wood site

An entrance to Hanstead Park

An entrance to Hanstead Park - Credit: Archant

A two year battle by a development company to get permission to build a new housing scheme on the site of a former management training college has proved successful.

The empty Bricket Wood sports centre in Hanstead Park

The empty Bricket Wood sports centre in Hanstead Park - Credit: Archant

St Congar Land has been given the go ahead by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to build 138 new homes on Hanstead Park in Smug Oak Lane, Bricket Wood, which was formerly occupied by an HSBC Management and Training Centre.

And the decision by the Secretary of State to back the recommendation from a planning inspector, has confirmed what Steve Taylor, a director of Congar Land, said at the time the first application for the site was made in 2014.

He maintained that because St Albans had a fundamental shortage of housing - the district council is required to find land for the building of 436 new homes annually - they should seek to maximise the potential of previously developed sites like Hanstead Park ahead of green field sites.

The scheme which now has planning permission is for 138 homes on the site together with the creation of an additional one house from the refurbishment and extension of Old Lodge and a further eight from the refurbishment and extension of Hanstead House itself.

An entrance to Hanstead Park

An entrance to Hanstead Park - Credit: Archant

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The council turned it down because of its potential impact on the openness and character of the Green Belt and the lack of affordable housin.

After a public inquiry in February this year, the planning inspector recommended the appeal should be allowed but because the proposal was a significant development in the Green Belt it was called in by the Secretary of State for a final decision

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He backed the inspector’s ruling that although the site lay within the Green Belt, it was previously developed land which was exempt from normal development rules, and while a housing scheme would reduce the openness of the land, it would not have a greater impact than the existing development there.

The amount of affordable housing was found to be acceptable and the Secretary of State also agreed with the inspector that because the council’s planning blueprint, the Strategic Local Plan, had not yet gone through the examination stage, its housing policies were out of date.

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