Local Plan consultation - 150 sites put forward for development

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News release: 12 March 2018

Around 150 sites in the St Albans District were put forward for potential development during a six-week-long Local Plan consultation.

View of St Albans from park bench
The sites will now be looked at by St Albans City and District Council to see if they are suitable for housing, commercial buildings or other uses.

The Council is drawing up a Local Plan to identify land for development from 2020 to 2036. 

It is working to a Government proposal that 913 new homes a year - 14,608 in total – should be built during that period.

Landowners were among those asked to nominate potential development sites that could help meet the target or be used for other purposes such as schools, offices or health facilities. 

A total of about 150 sites from across the District were submitted, although previous experience suggests it is likely only a small proportion will be allocated for future development.

An update on the consultation, which took place earlier this year, is to be given to a meeting of the Council’s Planning Policy Committee on Tuesday 13 March.

The Council made major efforts to publicise the consultation and engage with residents, businesses and interested organisations.

This included delivering a booklet to 60,000 households that invited responses to a number of key questions.

There was also a video explaining the Local Plan process. It was viewed 2,227 times on the Council’s website and watched in part or full by more than 4,000 on Facebook.

Key documents were published on the website, adverts were placed in the local media and posts made on social media sites including Twitter.

Fourteen exhibitions, staffed by planning officers, were held at venues throughout the District and attracted 680 people.

Altogether, the Council received 2,406 responses, mainly through the website, with the replies now being checked to ensure there are no double entries. 

More than half of these responses came from people who had not replied to a previous consultation.

Among the organisations to make representations were neighbouring Councils, Highways England, the Environment Agency and Thames Water.

Both Members of Parliament with constituencies that cover the District also took part.

All the responses are now being studied and will be published on the website along with details of the suggested development sites later this spring.

The responses will be used to prepare a draft Local Plan that will go before a full Council meeting this summer.

If Councillors agree to publish the Plan, it will then go out for consultation for a further six weeks this autumn.

Provided no major changes are deemed necessary, the Plan will then be submitted next March to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for approval.

Councillor Mary Maynard, Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “We wanted to reach out to the whole community as this Local Plan is a vital piece of work that will shape the future of the District for years to come.

“We used every communication channel open to us to get the public’s attention including posting a booklet to every resident, social media posts, a touring exhibition and a video.

“I think the result has been a considerable success as we received more than double the number of responses we got to a previous Local Plan consultation four years ago.

“Our call for sites also gained a great deal of interest and we must now decide which are appropriate for development.

“In doing so, we will weigh up a great many factors such as balancing development needs with our aspiration to preserve the Green Belt and the integrity of our existing towns and villages.

“I am now looking forward to the next stage of the process which is drawing up a draft Plan and submitting it to full Council for consideration. 

“The Secretary of State has warned he will intervene if we do not complete a Plan and do it for us. I believe it is far better that locally elected representatives with a real feel for the area rise to the challenge and make these difficult decisions themselves.”

Councillor contact:
Cllr Mary Maynard, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Building Control, St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 01582 620801. Email: Cllr.M.Maynard@stalbans.gov.uk

Media contact: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 01727-296130 E-mail: john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk