Revealed: Where 15,000 new homes could be built around St Albans

PUBLISHED: 13:08 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:08 08 September 2020

As government inspectors throw out St Albans Council's Local Plan, Archant Investigations Unit has produced an interactive map showing all the major housing developments it included.

As government inspectors throw out St Albans Council's Local Plan, Archant Investigations Unit has produced an interactive map showing all the major housing developments it included.

Archant

This interactive map shows where almost 15,000 homes would be built under St Albans Council’s controversial Local Plan.

Last week, the Herts Ad reported that planning inspectors had thrown out the proposal, saying it was not legally compliant.

Following government inspectors’ earlier concerns, the council had ditched a planned development of 2,300 homes in order to facilitate a railway project.

But now inspectors have objected again, claiming St Albans failed in its duty to see whether neighbouring boroughs could accommodate the consequent housing shortfall.

St Albans is legally required to produce a Local Plan, outlining how it will meet a government-set target of building 14,600 new homes by 2036.

An artist's impression of the new rail depot.An artist's impression of the new rail depot.

Longer life expectancies have seen the UK population increase, creating increased housing demand and pushing property prices so high that many younger people struggle to get on the ladder.

Nationally, councils have been ordered by government to oversee construction of 300,000 new homes per year.

The St Albans plan, approved by councillors in 2018, included eight new communities with more than 500 homes.

The land where the controversial rail depot is planned was previously earmarked for a new, 2,300-home garden village.The land where the controversial rail depot is planned was previously earmarked for a new, 2,300-home garden village.

•Hemel Hempstead

Hemel Hempstead has been allocated the largest number of new homes, spread across three separate sites.

A “major urban extension” would see a minimum of 4,050 dwellings constructed east of Hemel Hempstead, split in the middle by a “major new enviro-tech focused employment location”, which the council claims will create roughly 10,000 new jobs.

The third patch of land, to the north of Hemel Hempstead, would be expected to take least another 1,500 homes.

Residents protested against the use of green land to create a new freight rail depot, but St Albans Council relented after criticism from government inspectors.Residents protested against the use of green land to create a new freight rail depot, but St Albans Council relented after criticism from government inspectors.

The three developments would require four new primary schools and a secondary school.

•St Albans

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St Albans would face a similar expansion, with more than 2,000 homes spread across two plots of land.

The Local Plan outlines proposals for a minimum of 1,250 homes to the east of St Albans and 1,100 to the north.

The new communities, partly built on green belt land, would require the creation of two new primary schools.

The proposals also include upgrades to Harpenden Road, Sandridgebury Lane, Valley Road, Ancient Briton junction and King William IV junction.

•Harpenden

More than 1,300 homes are also proposed north of Harpenden, spread across two sites.

The council’s Local Plan allocates 760 homes to the north east and another 580 to the north west.

Green belt land would have to be sacrificed, although the plan does promise “retention of important trees and landscape features”.

“Community facilities, open spaces and parklands” are promised, alongside “significant improvements to existing and/or new walking and cycling facilities”.

•Park Street

A new ‘garden village’ near Park Street was set to take at least 2,300 new homes and three schools – but after planning inspectors raised concerns in January, the council said it would forfeit the garden village in order to accommodate a major rail freight depot.

Preliminary works on the depot have begun, but campaigners are still hopeful that the plan can be reversed.

Cathy Bolshaw, founder of Stop The Rail Freight Interchange (STRiFE), said her group was not opposed to the use of the land for housing, but felt the interchange would generate traffic and pollution.

She said: “In an ideal world, we would prefer it to stay as green belt, but we realise that there is a housing need and a garden village on that site would go a long way to alleviating that need. We were in favour of the council having that in their plan.”

The planning inspectorate’s decision to reject the Local Plan is set to be discussed by the council’s Planning Policy Committee on Tuesday.


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