St Albans meadow campaigners battle on two fronts

Bedmond Meadow

Bedmond Meadow - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting to preserve a wildlife meadow from development faced a double whammy this week.

Verulam Residents Association has been trying to prevent the meadow between Bedmond Lane and Mayne Avenue, St Albans, being developed by Banner Homes.

This week members were in London helping St Albans council defend its decision to list the land as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), which Banner Homes is contesting.

And it was also revealed that the developers were also going to appeal over an unsuccessful planning application to turn the meadow over to the grazing of horses – generally seen as a forerunner to a residential development bid.

The meadow was listed as an ACV by the district council last year and in their first unsuccessful appeal against the decision, Banner Homes maintained the land was private and had development potential.

On Wednesday the company took its case to a second appeal, a so-called ‘first tier’ tribunal, in a bid to get the ACV overturned.

Dr Robert Wareing, on behalf of the Verulam Residents Association, told the tribunal that the flora was stunning and the fauna ‘rich, diverse and delightful’.

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He said that it had been used by residents for many years as could be witnessed by the criss-cross paths across the meadow, and the fact that they cared for it was shown by the lack of litter and dog mess.

Banner Homes is contesting the refusal of planning permission for the change of use of the meadow to the keeping of horses on the grounds that it would not give rise to new development and the ecological value of the site would benefit from a regime of sensitive grazing.

But Dr Wareing said: “There is little doubt this planning appeal is a further legal step by Banner Homes to achieve their declared aim of developing housing on this beautiful wildlife meadow which is unique in St Albans.”

He maintained that if the developers were successful ‘the consequences will be the decimation of the natural beauty of this precious space and an invaluable asset would be lost to the community forever’.