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St Albans strategic local plan makes provision for around 4000 new homes to be built by 2031, with many being planned for Green belt land. After years of drawing the plan up, it was, in 2016, rejected by planning inspector, David Hogger. He found that St Albans had not fully co-operated with surrounding districts after objections by Dacorum borough council, Hertsmere borough council, Three Rivers district council, and Watford borough council were lodged under the group name South West Herts Group (SWHG).
SADC pursued a case at the High Court, overseen by Sir Ross Cranston, to overturn this decision and rescue all the time and money which would be lost – more than 10 years of work. The court proceedings cost Council tax payers over £35,000 and was unsuccessful.
In a complex, 18-page, written judgment running to more than 8,000 words the judge said: “It is plain from his reasons that the Inspector considered cooperation along a range of dimensions and over time. He reached, as he was entitled to do, an overall judgement about compliance with the duty to cooperate.”
He added: “In my view the Inspector was neither irrational nor unlawful in his approach.”
St Albans lost the case and went back to the drawing board.
St Albans are now working on their new Local plan. In November 2017, the Government put St Albans ‘on notice’. This was issued to only 15 of 418 local authorities across the UK. The Government are not satisfied with the progress made by St Albans on drawing up their new draft plan and, unless sufficient progress can be shown by the end of January 2018, then the Government will take control and make all decisions regarding St Albans planning.
This is potentially catastrophic to residents of London Colney and the surrounding areas. The Government could place, in addition to the planned Hertsmere garden village, hundreds of new homes around LC with no right of recourse for local residents.
This could play out well for St Albans. They could, if new home decisions are taken by the Government claim they would not have placed them in X, Y and Z locations and look as if they are acting on resident’s behalf. In reality, the situation is that, due to their ineptitude control may be taken away from them.
SADC have not opposed the Hertsmere local plan. They have persistently denied having knowledge of the plan for 4000-8000 new homes around London Colney. During a meeting between C4C and Harvey Cohen and Christine Lyons (Hertsmere planning), both stated that St Albans were aware prior to the issue being highlighted by Campaign for Colney and brought to local public attention in October 2017.
In effect, St Albans have been wrapped on the knuckles by the judge and are running scared of tackling Hertsmere for doing exactly what they did in their original plan: Lack of consultation with neighbouring areas.
St Albans should have made residents aware of Hertsmere local plan for the garden village site. They should have issued formal objections and been pro-active in galvanising residents to challenge this preferred new development. They have chosen to do nothing, instead concentrating on re-writing their new local plan. The fear is that St Albans will also plan to bolt on or build a number of new homes in and around London Colney, which would address the concern as to why they have not consulted local residents or challenged Hertsmere.
The St Albans public consultation opens on 9th January 2018.
St Albans Local Plan: residents urged to give views on housing, business and infrastructure developments
Review St Albans – 9th January 2018
More than 900 homes are to be built each year – including on Green Belt land – as part of a new Local Plan aimed at hitting government targets.
St Albans City and District Council has released its latest document looking at the years 2020 to 2036 and is urging residents to take part in a six-week consultation on the matter…
So, St Albans have finally released their (new) local plan consultation.
Before we continue, it’s important to fully understand the backdrop to the ‘consultation’.
St Albans spent many years and hundreds of thousands of pounds producing their last local plan. Included in this plan was a planned development in Hemel Hempstead (on the council border). Other councils including Hertsmere, Decorum and Three Rivers objected. It went to the High court…