St Albans planning chief makes emotional plea at Local Plan meeting on behalf of low-income families

Cllr Mary Maynard at the Planning Policy Committee. Picture: SADC webcast

Cllr Mary Maynard at the Planning Policy Committee. Picture: SADC webcast - Credit: Archant

The usually placid forum of St Albans council’s planning policy committee was rocked on Tuesday by an emotional plea on behalf of children trapped in cramped, damp and noisy accommodation.

Opening the meeting, committee chair Mary Maynard was in tears as she told councillors why the Draft Local Plan they were discussing was so necessary.

She said: “We all know there has not been enough of the right type of development of housing or commercial development in the district for the last generation.

“Many people have been priced out of working in the district and cannot buy or rent here. If they cannot rent, they cannot afford to buy and they struggle when they start families because they cannot go from a starter home to a family home.

“Children are being brought up in flats which are completely unsuitable for their needs.”

She had met with a family where the adults were suffering from mental health problems due to their living conditions, and children were being raised in noisy, damp and crowded conditions.

Cllr Maynard continued: “We will build homes for our young people and make absolutely sure many of them are affordable. We should build small family homes people can afford to live in. When considering the plan, please remember why we need to deliver them.”

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The committee also discussed a new stadium for St Albans City Football Club - whose proposal for a new ground as part of a community village was nixed by officers last month.

At the committee’s last meeting, councillors adjusted the wording of the officer’s report to leave a window open for a future stadium application.

Cllr David Yates said the development of a new stadium should be supported on the Green Belt, if the club cannot find a suitable site elsewhere.

As a note of caution, Julian Daly asked whether the council had consulted on the Draft Local Plan with neighbours. The old Strategic Local Plan, which Cllr Daly brought forward as leader of the council, was rejected by the High Court as St Albans council had not consulted properly with neighbours.

Cllr Maynard said they had consulted with neighbouring councils, including Welwyn Hatfield.

The committee will meet again next week to discuss evaluation forms, which were sent to landowners and developers, before the committee make their recommendations on the Draft Local Plan to Cabinet.