Local plan withdrawal could mean ‘fresh start’ for St Albans

St Albans district Cllr Jamie Day. Picture: Pete Stevens

St Albans district Cllr Jamie Day. Picture: Pete Stevens - Credit: Pete Stevens

Councillors are to consider formally withdrawing St Albans’ draft ‘Local Plan’ next week (November 19).

The plan is a document designed to act as the blueprint for future growth and development across the district until 2036, and includes a number of sites that have been earmarked to enable the construction of new homes, to meet demand for 913 new homes a year.

Earlier this year planning inspectors pointed to “serious concerns” and halted their public examination of the document – which needs to have government approval.

The November 19 meeting of St Albans City and District Council’s cabinet will be asked to formally withdraw the local plan.

Speaking in advance of that meeting, portfolio holder for planning Cllr Jamie Day said that withdrawal of the plan would give the council a ‘fresh start’.

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“We have no choice but to withdraw the draft local plan given the disappointing response of the government-appointed planning inspectors,” he said.

“At least, we can now embark on a fresh start which gives us an opportunity to better address issues which have become ever more pressing since the draft was first drawn up.

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“These include the need to recognise the impact of climate change and the need to ensure any new developments will meet strong sustainability standards.”

Cllr Day highlighted that the draft also focused to an extent on large developments of 500 houses or more, which would have a huge impact on the district.

“We will look to see if we can concentrate more on smaller sites which will take up less of the Green Belt,” he added.

If the cabinet agrees to formally withdraw the draft local plan, a detailed draft timetable of future work would be considered by the council’s planning policy committee in December.

At an earlier meeting, the council’s planning policy committee had highlighted Sevenoaks District Council, which is reported to be seeking judicial review.

There had been calls for St Albans to delay a decision on their own draft Local Plan until the judgement from the Sevenoaks judicial review had been published.

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