Shock at homes plan near St Albans Girls School

A MASSIVE new housing development planned for Green Belt land in St Albans has brought local residents out fighting.

They have hit out at the proposal to build about 125 houses on Green Belt land at the rear of Harpenden Road near St Albans Girls’ School (STAGS).

The scheme, to be outlined at a public exhibition tonight at STAGS, includes the creation of four tennis courts for the school and affordable homes for key workers.

Several residents, all of whom wish to remain anonymous, contacted the Herts Advertiser to say they were “appalled” at the proposed residential expansion on to Green Belt land with its consequent effect on traffic, schooling and the environment.

They were also very unhappy that one of their neighbours, a local primary headteacher, had allegedly sold a house on Harpenden Road to developers, potentially creating access to any future development.

A mum of two said that a lack of ready access to the site had helped to stymie development in the past and residents were disgusted that the sale of the headteacher’s house had now potentially created access.

Harpenden Road residents first heard about the proposed residential and sports court development on the Green Belt land in a letter from DLA, a St Albans-based firm of chartered town planners.

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The letter invites residents to join representatives of DLA, developers Hunston Properties Ltd and architects CMYK at a “public exhibition” of proposals at STAGS between 6.30pm and 7.30pm on July 22.

It advised them that it was intended to submit, towards the end of this year, a scheme to develop land to the rear of their homes for residential development, together with sports courts intended for STAGS.

Principal of DLA, David Lane, confirmed the site had been pinpointed as a possible area for future development for several decades, and said that with St Albans “running out of land for housing: this is a good site for that.”

The proposal includes the creation of four dual-purpose courts for tennis and netball for STAGS pupils, at the southern end of the site. The school was currently “heavily constrained” in terms of future expansion, he said.

Of the roughly 125 detached and semi-detached homes 30 per cent would be affordable houses for key workers, including younger members of STAGS’ teaching staff.

David said a formal planning application had not yet been submitted to St Albans Council so as not to jump the gun and tonight’s meeting was being held as “a matter of courtesy for residents”.

In a statement the primary headteacher, who did not wish the name of her school to be revealed, said she and her husband had sold their house in good faith to private individuals in the “honest and genuine belief” that it would be let for some time to come.

They said they had seen an outline plan for the future development of the field to the rear of their house to provide housing as well as playing fields for St Albans Girls School at some future time but were also given to understand that the planning process in relation to the land had not yet begun.

The statement added: “We were also aware that according to the St Albans “Shaping Our Community” Local Development Framework, the land in question was, “designated as safeguarded land for post 2026 needs”.

“As a result we always believed that in the immediate future following the sale of our house, it would be privately occupied and not demolished.”