St Albans MP Anne Main joins fight against Green Belt housing
Controversial 116-home development on green fields to be considered
ST ALBANS MP Anne Main has added her political clout to a campaign to stop a controversial proposal for a major development on Green Belt land in the city.
She has written to St Albans district council (SADC) to back residents fighting against Sewell Park, a proposed scheme of 116 houses, a 72-bed care home, tennis courts and 360 car parking spaces near Woollams playing fields to the rear of Harpenden Road.
SADC officers have recommended an application for the development on the 5.24-hectare site be rejected when the planning referrals committee considers it next Tuesday, October 25.
In her letter, Mrs Main reminded the council of, “the sensitivities of St Albans residents with regard to the sanctity of Green Belt land.”
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She added: “I have always maintained that Green Belt should not be developed on and I continue to hold this view.”
Mrs Main also joins St Albans Civic Society in opposing the scheme, which has attracted about 50 objections and just one letter supporting it from the head teacher of St Albans Girls’ School (STAGS), Margaret Chapman.
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A community action group, Campaign by Locals Against Sewell Housing (CLASH), was set up to fight the bid, and has over 1,500 signed-up supporters.
Opponents of the scheme have cited traffic-choked Harpenden Road, sewage problems and the visual impact of the development in their submissions. One objector said there was also the safety of local horse riders to consider.
Sewell Park is proposed to be built on former agricultural land behind rear gardens from 112-156b Harpenden Road, between Woollams and Sandridgebury Lane, near STAGS.
The applicant, Hunston Properties, is offering financial contributions and works in kind including �1.17 million towards education, youth facilities, libraries, leisure and highway works, if given the go-ahead for the scheme.
In addition, it is offering a monetary contribution of �1.5 million towards STAGS’ proposed new sixth form centre and multi-use games area.
Two full-sized tennis courts would also be provided for STAGS at Sewell Park.
But a planning officer’s report to next week’s committee said that while the school was hoping to develop a sixth form centre in the future STAGS, “is not in such a parlous position and was very recently awarded Academy status.
“Such status should allow for increased funding and it is not believed that reliance on the monetary contributions that the applicant is putting forward in the event that planning permission is granted is critical to the school’s future viability.”
The report added that while Hunston’s application stated there was a need for care homes in St Albans, such facilities had recently been approved, including at King Harry Lane and Camp Road.
The report added: “Provision of the care home therefore carries almost no weight as there is no need for such accommodation to be located on Green Belt green field sites.”