St Albans Strategic Local Plan: Power cable concerns for Green Belt housing site

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 February 2015

An example of high voltage lines near to houses in the district

An example of high voltage lines near to houses in the district

Archant

As the first feedback to the district's Strategic Local Plan starts to emerge, the Herts Advertiser begins an in-depth look at what local residents have said

High voltage power lines pose one of several hurdles to overcome before a proposal to build 2,500 homes on a Green Belt site in St Albans can progress, opponents have warned.

Campaigners in Redbourn have echoed infrastructure providers’ concerns about high tension power lines looming over a strategic local area east of Hemel Hempstead and west of the M1 which is close to the village and falls within the St Albans district.

It is one of several controversial sites earmarked for possible release from the Green Belt in St Albans district council’s Strategic Local Plan (SLP).

And last Thursday (12), councillors at a planning policy committee meeting were given an overview of feedback to a recent consultation on the draft.

National Grid has warned that a 400 kilovolt power line runs through part of the large tract abutting Redbourn.

The firm’s policy is to leave overhead power lines in situ and, it added, “it is not good practice to build homes underneath power lines [and] undergrounding is not cost-effective”.

Campaigner Graham Glover told the meeting of his fears about possible links between ill health and proximity to high voltage power lines.

He said that while there were no planning restrictions with regard to building near pylons in the UK based on possible health risks, houses constructed near such cables were “blighted”.

Graham asked: “Will planners ensure the proposed development would not replace current Green Belt or farmland with any undesirable homes that people would not wish to inhabit due to their proximity to high tension pylons?”

The council’s spatial planning manager Chris Briggs replied that residential planning of the site, “would have to take careful account of pylons - this is a reasonably common issue in planning for urban extensions”.

Chairman of Redbourn parish council Cllr David Mitchell warned against having a major development close to nearby Buncefield oil depot, which is currently being rebuilt following its explosion in 2005.

He said: “It should be noted there will two new storage tanks on the St Albans section of the oil depot, where there only used to be one.”

Other infrastructure concerns relating to proposed strategic sites in the Green Belt - including 1,000 homes at Oaklands College and 500 in north west Harpenden - highlighted the impact of expansion upon education, highways and sewerage.

Herts county council said the district should plan for a second two form of entry primary school for the East of Hemel Hempstead site.

Should construction of 1,000 homes at Oaklands go ahead, education officials say additional schooling - both primary and secondary - would need to be provided, and land allocated for playing fields.

The county officers said that Harpenden already had a current need for an additional secondary school, which would be “amplified” by the proposed additional development of 500 homes.

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