St Albans Green Belt homes appeal rejected

Old Orchard land, June 2014

Old Orchard land, June 2014 - Credit: Archant

A bid to build housing on a Green Belt site which generated a volley of opposition has been turned down on appeal.

An outline application to build 10 houses on Green Belt land in Old Orchard, Park Street, which was submitted to the district council earlier this year by the landowners, the Hyslop family, is on land under seven different ownerships that separates the village from St Albans.

Residents strongly opposed the application and as well as support from local councillors, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and St Albans MP Anne Main, they drew up a petition with over 100 signatures that was presented to St Albans council last April.

This week’s news that the appeal had been dismissed by a planning inspector was greeted with relief by campaigners against the scheme.

It was turned down because of the impact on the character and openness of the Green Belt and the lack of sufficient screening.

Welcoming the decision, local campaigner Paul King of the group Greenbelt, said local residents were ‘exceptionally happy and very relieved about the decision’.

He went on: “The emphatic nature of the planning inspector’s decision should assist other groups of residents that find themselves fighting speculators.”

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But he warned: “Whilst it is the end of this particular application, the emphasis will now shift to the Local Plan which is being formulated.

“Throughout the district we will see speculators trying to change the Green Belt status of their land through the Local Plan.”

MP Anne Main, who supported the campaign, said she was glad that the planning inspector had recognised that even the number of houses involvedc could do significant harm to the Green Belt.

She added: “If the council accepts any development on the Green Belt, it must be in a thoughtful and sensitive way that reflects the priorities and needs of the local authority.”

Park Street ward councillor, Stephen Bowes Phipps, added: “Hopefully the Strategic Local Plan will move quickly into adoption, thereby ending the speculation of mercenary developers determined to rob us of our vital green spaces.”