Redbourn “targeted” for more homes in St Albans Local Plan

Redbourn High Street. Photo: DANNY LOO

Redbourn High Street. Photo: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

Redbourn village faces the prospect of nearly doubling in size as part of the new St Albans Local Plan.

As part of a public consultation, landlords were asked to suggest development sites to St Albans district council (SADC).

More than 2,000 hectares of land were submitted and about 1,600ha has been rejected for various reasons around suitability. But 55 per cent of the land being taken forward is around Hemel Hempstead, near Redbourn.

Additionally, two sites near Hemel Hempstead had already been pinpointed by SADC before the consultation - at East Hemel Hempstead north and south.

That makes 6,400 new homes being considered for the west of the district. The closest village, Redbourn, is currently just over 5,000 houses.

However, SADC only need 3,000 homes from the landlords consultation to make up a Government set quota - therefore not all the sites being progressed at this stage are definites for the Local Plan.

The former Radlett Aerodrome in Park Street, also earmarked for a controversial Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, is the other site suggested by landlord Herts county council which has not been immediately rejected by SADC.

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If more detailed examination means that site is chosen, then not all of the Hemel Hempstead sites will be needed.

However, chair of Redbourn Parish Council, David Mitchell, is not reassured.

He said: “It’s a concern. It is an awful lot of housing and I have always said Redbourn is being targeted.

“I know Redbourn has a lot of Green Belt but it’s there for a purpose and if it erodes away, it seems we will gradually get closer and closer to Hemel Hempstead.

“We intend to try and protect the Green Belt - for infrastructure and ecology, historically and environmentally, because it’s important.”

He thinks St Albans city has “got away” without taking a fair share of housing: “SADC is preserving the character of St Albans, but not preserving the character of Redbourn.”

SADC planning portfolio holder, Cllr Mary Maynard, stressed the developments are not as close to Redbourn as believed: “We have chosen these on the basis of a very logical, analytical, and planning lead approach and so what has come out is what the planners are saying are the sites that are least harmful to the Green Belt and most likely to be developed and will be most beneficial to residents both in the new area and the people that live around it.

“I think people that live close to the developments might not be happy, some might be, but frankly the houses have to go somewhere.”

Before it had been revealed which sites submitted by landlords would be picked, there were concerns the south would be overloaded.

Park Street Cllr Jock Wright said: “The local plan threw up a lot of potential sites in the south of the district. So it was easy and understandable for residents to leap to a premature conclusion that they would end up with all of the district’s future houses near them.

“However after the initial evaluation it’s clear residents’ fears have been unfounded as prospective viable sites are spread across the district. Councillors will now need to look at the detail of each of these sites which made it through the initial evaluation and weigh them up based on their merits.”

Dacorum Borough Council said it will “consider its response to St Albans’ new Local Plan when it is formally published for comment later this summer”.

The former Strategic Local Plan was thrown out at High Court partly because St Albans had proposed too many houses around Hemel Hempstead without consulting properly with Dacorum Borough Council.

This time, SADC is part of a Local Plan cooperation team called the South West Herts Group.