Surprise plans for a new village on Green Belt land near St Albans

PUBLISHED: 08:41 15 September 2015 | UPDATED: 17:21 26 September 2016

Proposed village of Symondshyde, on Green Belt land near Sandridge and Wheathampstead. Image courtesy of jb planning associates

Proposed village of Symondshyde, on Green Belt land near Sandridge and Wheathampstead. Image courtesy of jb planning associates

Image courtesy of jb planning associates

The battle is on to halt efforts to pave the way for 1,100 homes in a new village proposed for the Green Belt near the St Albans district.

The John Bunyan pubThe John Bunyan pub

Gascoyne Cecil Estates, which owns land close to Sandridge and Wheathampstead, has suggested agricultural land at Symondshyde Farm be turned into a new village north west of Hatfield.

The proposal is for around 56 hectares to be released from the Green Belt for the creation of a new village, providing space for 25 homes per hectare.

If such a development went ahead, the estate suggests it would need to include a new primary school, along with a local shop, pub, and village hall linked to a new sports pavilion.

But that vision has disturbed villagers living nearby, with one warning that the ‘very substantial’ expansion of Hatfield would result in coalescence between neighbouring areas.

Alderman Chris Oxley outside the John Bunyan pub where an ancient Roman footpath draws walkers from around the south eastAlderman Chris Oxley outside the John Bunyan pub where an ancient Roman footpath draws walkers from around the south east

The proposed settlement is one of 15 Green Belt areas put forward by developers as potential future strategic sites during recent consultation for Welwyn Hatfield borough council’s Local Plan.

But as information about the suggested village has trickled out to local residents living near Symondshyde, fears have been rising about the likely impact of any such urbanisation.

Concerned local Alderman Chris Oxley, of Coleman Green Lane in Wheathampstead, warned: “This development could have a significant impact on St Albans district, and particularly Sandridge and Wheathampstead.”

He criticised the estate for failing to set out the distance between this district’s border and Symondshyde in its proposal to the borough council adding, “understandably it does not specify the potential adverse impact ... needless to say there appears to be a massive encroachment into the Green Belt.”

Proposed village of Symondshyde, on Green Belt land near Sandridge and Wheathampstead. Image courtesy of jb planning associatesProposed village of Symondshyde, on Green Belt land near Sandridge and Wheathampstead. Image courtesy of jb planning associates

Chris added: “There is a Roman footpath which goes past Symondshyde Farm to Hemel Hempstead, which starts at Coleman Green Lane.”

He said that the manager of nearby John Bunyan pub had voiced his concerns about the possible adverse impact should the council agree to include the site in its plan as the picturesque historic building drew many walkers and cyclists visiting the area from London and other areas.

The proposed village is also close to the historically important Devil’s Dyke, an ancient defensive earthworks from Celtic times.

Chris said: “I am highly concerned at the proposal for Hatfield to spread further onto the Green Belt. I understand they have to expand, but this would be going too far.”

Proposed village of Symondshyde, on Green Belt land near Sandridge and Wheathampstead. Image courtesy of jb planning associatesProposed village of Symondshyde, on Green Belt land near Sandridge and Wheathampstead. Image courtesy of jb planning associates

In their representation to the borough council, the estate said a new village was a ‘logical option’ that merited serious consideration, as the authority had not yet identified sufficient sites to meet its future housing need.

The landowners added: “It will also potentially relieve pressure on the demand for new homes in existing villages in the local area. The new village [would] take around 11 years to complete.”

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