Tories boycott St Albans council planning meeting

A BEHIND-closed-doors meeting of a planning working party was boycotted by Tory councillors last week to object to it being held in secret session.

The Conservative group on St Albans council decided not to send any of their members along to Thursday’s Local Development Framework (LDF) working party meeting because it was being held in private.

Tory group leader, Cllr Julian Daly, said: “We do not agree with the Lib Dem decision to hold these meetings in private. The working party is being used to close down debate by reducing the options put forward to future public meetings.”

He maintained that decisions about housing sites in the Green Belt were effectively being made behind closed doors at the working party into the LDF – the council’s new planning blueprint.

And he stressed that his group would be arguing their case in public when the current administration put forward their proposals for housing sites to be incorporated into the LDF.

But working party chairman and planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, said that the meeting was looking at housing numbers and not specific sites.

He expects the number of homes to be built annually in the district to fall from the 360 which was imposed by the previous Government through the now-scrapped East of England Regional Assembly to between 270 and 280.

Most Read

He went on: “Because the Coalition has said that we can now choose our own housing numbers, our revised basis is that we will use our affordable housing target of 100 homes a year and see what that gives us. There would be figures and questions that members would not want to ask in public.”

Cllr Brazier stressed again that there would not be any major housing schemes in the district and pointed out that the outcome of the working party’s deliberations would be heard at a meeting of the planning advisory panel next week.