St Albans Green Belt housing scheme rejected

ID shots for stories on the Green Belt and future expansion of St Albans, BRE Watford, Garston Site,

ID shots for stories on the Green Belt and future expansion of St Albans, BRE Watford, Garston Site, Bucknalls Lane - Credit: Archant

A TRIO of issues proved to be the sticking point for a proposal to build 100 new homes on Green Belt land in Bricket Wood which was rejected by district councillors.

The controversial application submitted by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) sought permission to redevelop the site of its headquarters in Bucknalls Lane.

While the plans have previously been greeted with ardent opposition from local residents, they were recommended for approval by planning officers subject to a number of conditions.

But after lengthy discussion the planning referrals committee reached a majority decision to reject the application due to access problems, lack of sustainability and infrastructure.

During the meeting BRE’s planning advisor Stephen Sibley said there would be no further loss to Green Belt land.

He commented: “BRE’s development has no greater impact on the Green Belt than the existing buildings on the site.

“Even if any members disagree on this point the proposal is just justified by a number of important considerations that apply here including the building of 100 dwellings, 35 of which would be affordable homes.”

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But Cllr Chris Brazier disagreed and flagged up early on that he would move for refusal of the scheme.

He said: “This is a site we always took out of any local development framework as it is unsustainable and I still agree with that.

“It is not a scheme that is well integrated into the surrounding area. It has relatively poor access and as a result it would be car dependent. It would lead to the coalescence of Garston and Watford.”

Cllr Dreda Gordon echoed that sustainability was the key issue.

She said: “It [the site] plays an important role in separating two settlements; surely that is what Green Belt is all about?”

Last July BRE withdrew a similar application to build 100 homes. It has also been formerly speculated the firm intended to build new houses in order to fund a sustainable ‘eco park’ for green businesses.