The future is in your hands says St Albans District Council

RESIDENTS are being urged to comment on the district council’s vision for the location of future growth following the release of its key planning policies and development proposals for the next 17 years.

For the time being, St Albans council has dropped its controversial suggestion in the core strategy which will feed into its new planning blueprint, the Local Development Framework, that certain school fields or neighbouring green space should be earmarked as potential sites for future residential expansion.

Instead it has invited the public to comment on whether future housing growth at educational sites within the Green Belt should be considered, particularly where institutions show a need to provide improved facilities and expand.

The council also wants to know whether:

• Given the current shortage of housing and care facilities for the ageing population, should Green Belt land be considered to provide future housing?

• Should Green Belt locations be investigated, when “no non-Green Belt locations” are available for primary and secondary schools of which there is a shortage in the district?

• Is the council’s aim of delivering 100 affordable homes a year, including social rented, key worker and shared ownership homes, acceptable?

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• Is there public support for provision of new and improved infrastructure such as schools, transport and expanded retail development?

At a recent cabinet meeting the council’s head of planning and building control Heather Cheesbrough said: “I think it is very important that we have an over-arching framework for the district. The core strategy needs to provide that strategic level of planning framework, to provide some coherence going forward.”

Portfolio holder for planning and conservation, Cllr Chris Brazier, commented: “We have asked the public if they agree with us, on the housing numbers… and if they agree with us on the protection of Green Belt, if they agree with us on sites and sustainability of the future.”

And Cllr Anthony Rowlands added: “I have been vexed by the use of educational land and Green Belt… it is clearly a big issue and one where we don’t really have any sense as to what the local opinion is.”

The document is out for consultation until early February and the council will host public meetings throughout the district to discuss it.