St Albans care home scheme rejected

PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 November 2016

The former site of Jane Campbell House on Waverley Road.

The former site of Jane Campbell House on Waverley Road.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Twenty-nine homes will not be built at the site of a former residential care home in St Albans, after a planning inspector rejected the development.

Potters Bar builders Matthew Homes had attempted to overturn the district council’s refusal of its proposal to build at Waverley Road – the former location of Jane Campbell House.

The care home was recommended for closure by a county council cabinet panel four years ago because it was not economically viable, and it was later demolished.

Matthew Homes sought approval to build 10 three-bedroom homes at the vacant site – the perimeter of which stands out in the location with its high, bright red hoarding.

The developer also wanted to build seven two-bedroom and two one-bedroom flats for the private market, along with four one-bedroom and five two-bedroom flats and a two-bedroom home as affordable housing.

Planning inspector Jonathan Clarke, in his recent decision, said factors in favour of the proposal included that it would deliver 29 new homes, 10 of which were affordable units “in a district which has a shortfall in its five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

“It would also secure the redevelopment of an unsightly vacant site”.

However, the inspector criticised Matthew Homes’ scheme as having ‘design shortcomings’.

He said its design and layout “would cause material harm to the character and appearance of the site and the surrounding area”.

Mr Clarke explained: “The proposed three-storey apartment block would extend across the end of the proposed cul de sac and tightly enclose views towards this area from Waverley Road.

“Due to its height, massing and location, the block of flats would be fairly prominently seen in views through the gaps in the current vegetation alongside Everlasting Lane, particularly in the winter months when the trees are not in leaf.

“The cramped nature of the development within the site itself would not be reduced by the fact that it would be between the NHS office car park and Everlasting Lane.”

Mr Clarke concluded: “It is not clear that an alternative proposal could not be brought forward which would deliver broadly similar benefits without causing harm which I have identified.

“I conclude that the adverse effects of granting planning permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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