Strategic Local Plan: New homes ‘will harm economy’ of St Albans

436 new homes a year need to be built in St Albans

436 new homes a year need to be built in St Albans - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Building 436 new homes in the St Albans district every year until 2031 will harm the local economy, according to respondents to a recent consultation.

Economic development needs, for example expansion of Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, do not justify building in the Green Belt and the district’s current infrastructure will need improving to keep pace with the needs of those living in 8,720 new homes.

Those are the warnings of respondents commenting upon the St Albans district council’s planning blueprint, its draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP) which sets out where expansion should take place in future.

In a report prepared for a recent council planning policy committee meeting, officers said that of the 550 who commented on the plan’s development aims, 65 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed with an assertion that future economic needs could be met locally, including new employment land east of Hemel Hempstead, where 2,500 homes are proposed to be built.

Twenty-five per cent warned that rather than improving the local economy, increased housing “may actually harm it, for example increasing congestion”.

And one of the key infrastructure concerns was the district’s current school capacity, slated by respondents as “insufficient to cope with further economic development”.

Ten per cent of those commenting said economic development would mainly cater for people moving out of London, which would not help the district as most of the newcomers would continue spending money in the capital.

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Officers said that additional houses were economically beneficial because they generated construction work and more spending on support services and goods to furnish new homes.