St Albans Local Plan given go-ahead for second round of consultation

Cllr Mary Maynard.

Cllr Mary Maynard. - Credit: Archant

Dramatic plans to build 15,000 new houses in St Albans has been given the go-ahead for another consultation.

St Albans district council (SADC) has approved the draft Local Plan for publication - it earmarks enough land for development to build the equivalent of another Harpenden in the district before 2036.

This is a Government set quota designed to drive house prices down and equates to about 900 new homes per year.

The document has been contentious because the majority of development is on Green Belt land, and much of that in Redbourn ward.

Full council approved the plans for public consultation at a meeting on July 11.

Cllr Simon Grover said: “This country does need more homes but it doesn’t need them in the Green Belt.

“The situation we are in is due to a massive failure of Government policy - housing policy, regional policy, industrial policy.

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“When we fail to spread our country’s wealth and economic activity beyond the south east, when we feed an economic system that treats houses like an investment instead of homes, we get Government planning diktats like this that concrete over our precious Green Belt.”

He also said SADC should apologise for not “acting sooner” to update the 1994 Local Plan.

Cllr Gillian Clark retorted: “Governments of all persuasions seem to think it was good to move the goal posts so we have worked exceptionally hard on this council to produce something and its really sad when people say we didn’t do any work.”

Both Redbourn and London Colney district councillors complained that their areas had been unfairly targeted for housing, with Cllr Simon Calder describing the south as a “whipping boy” and Cllr Victoria Mead explaining that residents of the village are “not happy”.

Cllr Katherine Gardner noted: “We are actually talking about only 24 per cent of the proposed housing in the consultation being anything remotely approaching affordable, and to me 24 per cent is nowhere near enough affordable.”

Planning portfolio holder Cllr Mary Maynard later said that figure was actually 40 per cent.

It will now go out to public consultation from September 4 to October 17.