St Albans 2026: farmland at risk

PUBLISHED: 08:01 28 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

FARMLAND on which more than a thousand new homes could be built is already being promoted as a development site Construction and development specialists Waystone, part of the CP Holdings Group which owns land to the south west of St Albans behind the Veru

FARMLAND on which more than a thousand new homes could be built is already being promoted as a development site

Construction and development specialists Waystone, part of the CP Holdings Group which owns land to the south west of St Albans behind the Verulam Estate, is promoting the site to the south west of St Albans as having potential for a mixed-use development.

The site known as Windridge Farm is an Area of Search in the current consultation into the core strategy for the St Albans Local Development Framework (LDF).

As well as its potential for between 1,000 and 1,200 new homes, the council would be looking to the developer to build a new western orbital road linking the former M10, now the A414, with the Hemel Hempstead Road.

In a masterplan on the Waystone website, a hotel and spa, business park, retirement village, new school, healthcare facilities and a park and ride scheme are also incorporated.

The Waystone website admits that the project is in the very early stages and that "substantial infrastructure improvements" would be needed.

But the marketing exercise has infuriated residents of the Verulam Estate which backs on to the site and already face having scores of new homes built on the adjoining St Albans School playing fields in King Harry Lane.

A spokesperson said that as Windridge Farm was still in the Green Belt, its promotion was pre-emptive at least and at worst could be seen as developers having tremendous confidence that they could influence local planning decisions.

She pointed out that in 2007, when the council first consulted on possible Areas of Search for the new LDF, over 50 per cent of the objections to all the sites included were directed at new development on Windridge Farm.

She went on: "This opposition, though very coherent and vocal, was totally ignored by the council as they have proposed this area as their preferred option for future development."

Cllr Chris Brazier, the council's planning portfolio holder, said this week that at exhibitions and meetings throughout the district which he had attended, building in the Green Belt was the main concern.

He was highlighting the fact that the current Shaping Our Community consultation to draw up the core strategy for incorporation into the LDF ends on Monday.

Cllr Brazier said that without doubt the most contentious issues were the Areas of Search and in the past week he had met with over 100 objectors to the development of farmland north of Harpenden and a slightly smaller number in Redbourn where a site to the east of the village is also an Area of Search.

Cllr Brazier added: "Green Belt is the big issue and we want to protect the Green Belt but we need to hear from residents about their concerns not councillors and other councils."

The council has to build 7,200 new homes by 2021, 6,000 of which have already been built. But it is the prospect of additional government house-building targets beyond that period which have led to the identification of Areas of Search.

To comment before the close of the Shaping Our Community consultation go to the council's website www.stalbans.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/planning/policy/ShapingOurCommunityConsultation.aspx or visit the exhibition in the foyer of the council offices.

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