St Albans Green Belt debate turns heated
- Credit: Archant
A Green Belt housing debate became heated when councillors started shouting over the top of each other during a public meeting.
Heckles were raised because St Albans district council (SADC) is currently considering developing more than 2,000ha of land by Redbourn as part of the draft Local Plan.
Chair of Redbourn Parish Council, David Mitchell, was initially invited to ask questions about the Local Plan at the planning policy committee, but the exchange soon became tense.
After he had asked six questions and had one clarified, Cllr Mitchell was asked to make way for the next speaker.
Instead, Cllr Mitchell continued: “So you are disagreeing with the figures, that are in your actual agenda?
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“There’s a lot of confusion actually, there’s quite a lot of errors in there, in the document which - I can send you an email if you would like to show you where they are.”
Planning portfolio holder at SADC, Cllr Mary Maynard was speaking at the same time: “Thank you Cllr Mitchell. We have a number of other questioners so could we please end this, please end this questioning.
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“We have other questioners tonight, if you would like to continue with any other questions please contact us but have other questioners tonight and we are on a very tight agenda.
“Thank you very much, thank you very much Cllr Mitchell, Cllr Mitchell, thank you.”
The Redbourn campaigner retorted: “I accept that but we need the truth don’t we?
“We need accuracy and the truth.”
SADC is looking to build 15,000 homes in the district before 2036. This Government set quota is based on a housing affordability ratio.
As 81 per cent of the district is Green Belt and the rest is densely populated, Cllr Maynard has warned that much Green Belt will have to be sacrificed.
There are currently eight definite new developments and four maybes to be considered further by Local Plan council officers.
Of the possibles, three of the schemes are close to Redbourn and the village faces almost doubling in size.
The other site is in Park Street, on which developer HelioSlough is planning a large rail freight terminal. The company has warned SADC against scuppering the scheme with housing.