News of the King Harry Lane development
"Remember the key is partnership - after all, it is everyone's
future" - slogan on St Albans District Council Environment
Friday 2nd February 2007
It is less than a year since the 2005 planning application for developing
the King Harry Lane playing fields was rejected on the grounds that the
targets for new housing in St Albans could be achieved without building
over green fields.
But, as expected, Hallam Land Management have submitted a new proposal
and there is only a couple of weeks for us to submit objections.
Some of you may have received a letter of notification (see below) but
many have not - even some living right next to the playing field! Please
go to the council web site and view the proposal (www.stalbans.gov.uk/living/planning/search-plans.php
and search for the submission reference 5/2006/2729). It is even longer
this time, but read at least the main proposals and conclusions.
Basically it involves building 65 age-restricted dwellings (for over-55s),
plus 16 'key workers' flats and a 40-place Care Home with Community Facilities
on approximately half the playing field site. Access would be by another
roundabout on King Harry Lane, but no further traffic modifications would
be carried out, ie no change to the King Harry pub or its junction.
This is Phase One. Phase Two, of course, would be the building of ordinary
homes on the rest of the site.
Quite transparently the current application is the thin end of the wedge,
the foot in the door, the Trojan Horse - whatever. Eventually Hallam want
to end up with the same amount of housing as before, but are treading
more softly in the opening stages. For reasons amply expressed last year,
this would be to the detriment of existing residents and future occupants
of the redevelopment.
Please make your opinions known to the council by the deadline of February
9th - address etc are on the attached letter. Also, write to the press
if you can. Please pass on the information to neighbours etc who may not
have received notification and are not on this email list. Keep an eye
on St Albans Voice website: www.stalbansvoice.info . It will be updated
with developments as they arise, particularly when the date is fixed for
the planning committee hearing when a good turnout of residents can make
a real difference.
Below is a message from the Verulam Residents' Association:
Dear Fellow Resident
The purpose of this letter is to ask you to spend a few minutes of your
time sending a letter to the Council objecting to the latest proposal
by the Hallam Land Company to build on King Harry
Lane Playing Fields. As you know, the St Albans Council last year on
20 February unanimously rejected Hallam's previous proposal to build approximately
250 houses on the Fields.
Hallam have now produced a second proposal which involves building a
so called 'Retirement Community' on the lower half of the field bordering
King Harry Lane.
The objections to this second proposal are:
1. The Retirement Community includes 65 "age restricted houses".
These are restricted to persons over the age of 55. This makes little
or no difference to the traffic generated by these houses.
Persons do not stop full time employment or cease using cars at age
55 - or even 65 nowadays.
2. The Retirement Community includes 16 key-worker units which again
are for those in full time employment who will generate traffic.
3. It is stated that this proposal relates to "only half the site".
However the developer refers to the Retirement Community as Phase One
and also makes reference to Phase Two
which comprises building on the rest of the site. This building could
still involve another 200 houses in addition to the Retirement Community.
4. The developer blatantly states that he will pay for improvements to
the King Harry Lane junction if, and only if, the District Council agrees
to Phase Two of the proposed development.
5. Improvements to the King Harry Lane junction inevitably involve invading
a Conservation Area. Government guidelines (Planning Policy Guidance 15,
Para 4.19) state that any traffic
easement changes to a Conservation Area must either preserve or enhance
the Conservation Area.
Clearly no traffic improvement proposal can satisfy this requirement.
In order to reduce the traffic gridlock which occurs daily on King Harry
Lane for all to see, one would have to make much more radical traffic
alterations than tinkering with a junction.
6 In short, this new proposal is an attempt to provide a smokescreen
behind which the developer can get his foot in the door and then move
on to build in total very much the same
number of dwellings as in his first proposal which was rejected unanimously
COULD YOU PLEASE WRITE A LETTER INCLUDING THE ABOVE OBJECTIONS QUOTING
Planning Ref 5/2006/2729 King Harry Lane Playing Fields, addressed to:
Ben Borthwick, Planning Dept., St Albans City and District Council Offices,
St Peters Street, ST ALBANS, AL1 3JE or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIONS HAVE TO BE IN BY 9 FEBRUARY 2007.
Strength in numbers attending the Plans Central Meeting proved very
important last time. The above proposal is likely to be considered at
Planning Meeting commencing 7.00 pm on 5 March or 26 March, at the
Council Offices.. The Council have not informed us which meeting but if
you can telephone 01727 819469
shortly before these dates you will be told whether the Playing Fields
are on the Agenda. If they are, PLEASE ATTEND IF YOU POSSIBLY CAN.
Barrie Mort, Chairman (01727 863667)
Tuesday 21st February 2006
Well done everybody!!! Last night was a truly inspiring occasion. The
turnout of local residents was fantastic - we filled the council chamber,
the balcony, the stairs, the foyer of City Hall and overflowed into the
street! Thank you to all who responded to the call to convey our views
in such an overwhelming way. While we're at it, particular thanks are
Barrie Mort, chair of the Verulam Residents Association for putting
the protestors' case succinctly in the 5 minutes allowed by the committee
and for compiling, with Ann Main our MP, a devastating formal written
report to the planning committee which certainly focussed their minds
on the formal flaws in the development.
Our councillors, Campbell, Ellis and Frearson, who did their best for
us (even though membership of the VRA meant that Sue and Martin had
to leave the council chamber while the application was being discussed)
Members of the Verulam Residents Association and other volunteers for
getting several rounds of fliers put through letterboxes and organising
All those who wrote to the council since last August (you are all listed
in the planning officer's report)
All those who put their names to the letter which appeared in the Review
last week (for some reason the Herts Advertiser chose not to print it)
The King Harry regulars who got together a petition.
And all those who added their weight to the campaign in too many ways
to list here.
But yesterday was not the final victory, more like one battle in a
long campaign. While the reasons for refusal are not the kind which
can be corrected by minor changes of detail in a new application, circumstances
may change in the developers' favour and in future and their plans would
be revived - continual vigilance on our part is essential.
Below are the grounds on which the planning committee formally rejected
the application as given in the report by the planning officers - they
also added more to the informative list to include the archaeological
value of the area:
Recommendation - Refuse
1. In the absence of a green space strategy the proposal would be contrary
to Policies 4
and 75 of the District Local Plan Review 1994 and Government Guidance
on ' Planning for Open Space' as the loss of the open space may harm the
and recreational needs of the area.
2. The Hertfordshire Structure Plan's 1991 -2011 housing target for St
will be significantly exceeded without the need to release further Greenfield
The 2001-2011 building rate is expected to be higher than the annual building
proposed in the draft Regional Spatial Strategy. Therefore, it is considered
sufficient housing land is being brought forward. The proposals are contrary
4 of the St Albans Local Plan Review 1994, Policy 9 of the Hertfordshire
Plan and PPG3 (Housing) that previously developed sites should be developed
before Greenfield sites.
3. In the absence of a financial contribution which provides for measures
to mitigate the
impact of the development in terms of traffic management and sustainable
the proposal would be likely to have an adverse and prejudicial effect
on the highway
network and conflict with Policies 34 and 35 of the St Albans District
Review 1994 and Policy 2 of the Hertfordshire Structure Plan Review 1991-2011.
4. In the absence of a financial contribution towards community services,
secondary education, libraries, youth and childcare provision the proposal
likely to have an adverse effect on Hertfordshire County Council Services
local community and cause harm by further exacerbating the shortfalls
opportunities. The proposed development therefore conflicts with Policy
2 of the
Hertfordshire Structure Plan Review 1991-2011 and Councils Playing Pitch
5. In the absence of a financial contribution towards community services,
provision of playing pitches and art provision the proposal would be likely
to have an
adverse effect on St Atbans District Council Services for the local community
cause harm by further exacerbating the shortfalls in leisure opportunities.
proposed development therefore conflicts with Policy 2 of the Hertfordshire
Plan Review 1991-2011 and Councils Playing Pitch Strategy and Policy,
93 and 94 of the St Albans Local Plan Review 1994 and PPG17.
6. In the absence of any adequate provision for affordable housing, the
conflict with the provisions of Policy 7A of the St Albans District Local
1994 and would be likely to have an adverse effect on Hertfordshire County
Services for the local community and cause harm by further exacerbating
shortfalls in affordable housing opportunities. The proposed development
conflicts with Policies 2 and 10 of the Hertfordshire Structure Plan Review
7. By reason of the excessive hardstanding surfaces, and the lack of
opportunity for the
provision of new landscaping as shown on the illustrative layout the proposed
development would detract from the character and visual amenity of the
conflict with Policies 4, 69, 70, 74 and 75 of the St Albans Local Plan
1. The Local Planning Authority is likely to object to any proposal involving
works which adversely affect the King Harry Public House as a Listed Building
fails to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the St Albans
Sunday 8th January 2006
It now seems certain that the application will be considered on February
20th by St Albans (Central) Planning Committee. Our councillors on the
committee know the strength of opinion in the neighbourhood and all we
can do realistically is once more to give public voice to our concerns.
I have circulated the following email to those on my emailing list in
an effort to send a letter with a long list of signatories to the press
the week before the committee meeting.
The application by Hallam Land Development for the King Harry Lane Playing
Field development is now due to come before the Central area Planning
Committee on 20th February.
Recently a large development in Harpenden was refused on the grounds that
the St Albans area would already satisfy the regional development targets
without it, but while this gives us some grounds for optimism we cannot
Below is a letter which I hope will be sent to local newspapers before
the planning committee meeting with as many signatures as we can raise
to back it up.
Please reply to me by 1st February if you are prepared to have your
name(s) appended to the letter. Please also ask your neighbours and friends
who are not on my email list to contact me (details below) if they want
to be included. The letter is :
"The application for development of the King Harry Lane playing
field is now due to come before the St Albans Central Planning Committee
on Monday 20th February.
We, the undersigned residents of the St Stephens/Verulam area, are writing
to express our continued opposition to the plan. In no way have the developers
dispelled our alarm concerning the adverse effects on area. The consequences
of 780 extra bedrooms built in an already crowded area affects all aspects
of its infrastructure, but particularly provision of education and health
services, supply of utilities such as power and waste management, and
most obviously the additional traffic to be fed into roads already subject
to daily queues. Add to this the demolition of the King Harry pub, the
destruction of ancient woodlands and the threat of damage to St Stephens
Church by a new link road and there really appears to be little benefit
from the scheme save, of course, the millions to be made by fields
We urge the Planning Committee to act in the interests of present and
future residents of St Albans and refuse the application."
44 St Stephens Avenue
St Albans, Herts AL3 4AD
Tel 01727 863105
Saturday 1st October
The Verulam Residents Association is setting up a working group to coordinate
local opposition to the damaging impact of plans to develop the King Harry
Lane playing fields. Membership will be drawn from residents of Verulam
together with neighbouring areas, such as Watling Street and St Stephens
Hill, which are just as much at risk from the plans as those living next
to the playing fields.
Looking at the strategy of other groups who have opposed planning applications
in St Albans successfully shows how important it is to construct the case
in relation to existing regulatory guidelines and requirements and to
present the argument succinctly, both in a written report to the planning
officer and in the pitiful three minutes verbal presentation allowed at
the planning committee meeting.
Professional help is important in drawing up such a case - especially
expertise in planning law and practice, traffic and environmental impact
regulation, together with practical knowledge of planning aspects of archaeological,
leisure and heritage issues. If you or your neighbours have such experience
and knowledge and would be prepared to contribute their expertise, please
contact the working group either via St Albans Voice or to Barrie Mort,
chair of VRA, on 01727 863667.
It seems that the traffic 'improvements' indicated in the August 2005
application probably are part of the application (see below). In
which case it seems likely that the formal notification by the council
in August was deficient, in that letters were received only by those whose
land adjoins the playing field or who sent written comments on the 2004
application. Surely all residents of Vicarage Close, Watling Street, Mercers
Row and the cul-de-sacs near the King Harry count as adjoining the development
and hence should have been formally notified.
Given the volume of comment on the application, it is unlikely that the
case officer will be able to prepare his report for tabling at a St Albans
(Central) planning committee before early January. Despite various deadlines,
comment will be included in the case file and report right up to the planning
decision meeting, so please write in if you have not done so- addresses
below. But it is vital that we move quickly to construct our arguments
- look out for further news!
Monday 26th September
The Trevor McDonald programme showed other places in the south-east beset
by planning decisions out of democratic control. The power of the government
to coerce local government by way of building targets and the South East
England Regional Assembly was frightening. Prescott invoked 'NIMBYism'
to attack local protesters, implying that it was selfishness over house
values and amenities which was preventing decent people from being housed.
We must make it clear in all we do that we only demand that the environment
should not be ruined by an unthinking rush to build houses willy nilly.
An eagle-eyed resident who studied the 2005 planning application closely
noted that it still mentioned the future possibility of a second access
road to the development - possibly into the end of Westfields or Rowlatt
Drive? The removal of a second access point was seen as a response to
criticism of the 2004 application that traffic could feed into the Verulam
Estate and the other roads leading to Watford Road. Perhaps this plan
has not been shelved after all.
There is a possibility that the council may be in trouble from two directions
by not fulfilling statutory requirements. While it has not been confirmed,
the plan may require an Environmental Impacts analysis which has not been
done, also the National Playing Fields Assocation has written to the council
objecting on several grounds to the loss of playing fields.
For those who are unaware of the exact location of the proposed link
road around the back of St Stephens Church, below is one proposed configuration.
As you may see, it starts from a new roundabout near the entrance to the
old YHA site, loops round the churchyard destroying 'significant trees'
and joins Watling Street at another new roundabout next to Vicarage Close.
It is doubtful that the width indicated on this plan is accurate, since
it appears to be less than the current width of St Stephens Hill, and
that would hardly suffice for the flow of buses to and from the proposed
Park & Ride terminal at the Park Street roundabout. The different
options involving a link road vary mainly in the roads selected for blocking
off. In this illustration Watling Street is blocked at the King Harry
junction giving access only to the church and the existing houses.
Actually, the inclusion in the application of the modified traffic flow
around St Stephens Church and the King Harry pub is rather odd in itself,
since it appears that the road changes are not themselves part of Hallam's
application for outline planning permission, being a project to which
the developers would contribute financially as a 'section 106 obligation'.
It seems that the rationale for claiming that the impact of the housing
development could be minimised by traffic management relies on a planning
decision which is not at all certain. Who is involved in this, separate
(NB The planning application files carry a council warning not to print
them, to do so may have copyright implications)
Saturday 24th September
The programme "Tonight with Trevor McDonald" on ITV1 on Monday
26th deals with the 'increasingly bitter planning rows between residents
and developers". Sounds familiar!
The KHL application cannot appear at the regular St Albans (Central) planning
committee before October 17th, but there has been some suggestion that,
as a major development, it would be dealt with by an umbrella committee
which is above the three area planning committees. Unfortunately, this
committee does not have a regular scheduled meeting so it is not clear
how much warning would be given or how its agenda would be published.
Also, all protestors are still restricted to a 3 minute presentation by
a single speaker.
Keep in touch with the website and, of course, check your emails. If we
need to organise some vocal protest it may be at very short notice and
you would be asked to relay information to other residents who are not
Actions envisaged would include a public meeting at a venue larger than
last year's (when so many angry residents turned out that many could not
even get in), a poster and car-sticker campaign, and action to move the
publicity into a wider, at least regional or even national forum.
Some residents in Watling Street, Watford Road and the many small closes
off these streets are only now finding out what Hallam Land Management
and the Councils have in store for them, particularly the impact of the
link road behind St Stephens Church and the Park & Ride scheme which
the District and County Councils are planning. Please spread the word
as widely as possible.
Thursday 15th September
During a further two hours sifting through council files on the King
Harry Lane development dating from summer 2004, a depressing pattern emerged.
Despite a pile of letters from residents critical of the August 2004 application
which was over an inch thick, the other documents contain virtually no
reference at all to local unease. In fact the only reference to opposition
at all that I recall was one sentence in a letter from Hallam to the council
which admitted that local feedback had been 'unsupportive'. The letters,
public meetings and press discussion were almost totally unacknowledged
in the stream of letters between Hallam and council officials (they are
on first-name terms by the way); in the minutes of meetings attended by
Hallam representatives, council planning officers and a representative
of a local estate agent; in letters to and from the County Education department
negotiating 'section 106 obligations' (ie sweeteners); memoranda concerning
the need for the link road behind St Stephens Church to take buses to
and from the planned 'Park and Ride' location; notes relating to the possible
inclusion of a hotel in the Westminster Lodge development; and in the
paperwork containing detailed phasing and planning for the KHL scheme
which obviously regard the application as done and dusted!
It is unnerving to observe decisions being made by council staff with
an almost total lack of democratic input. The feelings of residents are
simply disregarded while our councillors do not seem to be involved in
the process at all unless the application is presented at a planning committee
meeting. In theory even this may not happen, since I learnt yesterday
that unless a councillor from an affected ward explicitly requests that
an application is brought to the committee it could be approved by yet
another local government officer. (A councillor has now made that request
for the KHL application).
It is clear that the volume of the debate needs to be turned up if Verulam
residents are not to be bypassed completely.
Expect a public meeting when the date of the relevant planning meeting
is known - check on this website and, if you haven't done so already,
put your email address on the distribution list.
Tuesday 13th September
Verulam residents who tried to see the King Harry
Lane application soon after receiving their council letter, either on
line or by going to the council offices, found that they were not available
until after the August Bank holiday - six days after the start of the
21 day consultation period. Partly due to their failure to fulfil statutary
requirements, the council will take into account all communications received
up to the time the case officer begins to write his report. Since he is
on leave until 26th September this gives anyone time to see the plans
and send comments if they have not already done so. See below for addresses
- Over 300 signatures on the petition from the King Harry.
- Over 50 email addresses on our circulation list
- Untold numbers of letters and emails from irate Verulam residents
to the planning department
- Articles and letters in Herts Ad and Review - more to come this and
News from the vaults: Having spent an afternoon going through
the publicly available files in the council office, several interesting
- A meeting in June considered a phasing plan for the project which
included putting the application before the planning committee on Sept
26th! - the minimum possible time after the consultation period. This
will not now be possible, partly because the case officer is on holiday
and partly because of the number of protests which will have to be included
in his report to the committee. The next planning committee for Central
St Albans (which is our area) will be Monday 17th October. As there
is a real possibility that the application will be tabled then we should
be prepared to raise the volume of our protest once the agenda is announced
(it is announced on the council website).
- There is a real ambiguity concerning the total number of units to
be built on the site. The number of units in the 'community area' is
detailed on council papers - 11 family houses, 10-15 bungalows and 60
flats, a total of up to 86. What is not clear is whether this number
is included in the 260 odd total in the application, or whether these
are to be added on, giving an overall 346. The types of housing detailed
in the application do not include bungalows etc, so the greater figure
- There is more detail in the phasing plan considered by the council.
In particular, the completion date is given as 2010 in the application,
but in the council version this is given as the time when, finally,
the traffic flow alterations would be made ie the King Harry junction
and, if adopted, the link road round St Stephens. One can only boggle
at the traffic conditions during 4 years of construction. Does the vicar
of St Stephens and his congregation have strong views on the plans?
- It appears that the County Council favours the link road scheme. So
perhaps, does Hallam who are a part of road building company Henry Boot!
Letters are filed between the County education department and the council
in which an education department official tries to get an agreement
on the 'section 106' commitments of the scheme, ie the sweeteners Hallam
will be giving to various leisure and educational areas. In passing
it would appear that the Westminster Lodge improvements being considered
include a hotel on that land.
- It is recorded that the developers had notified Sport England concerning
the playing field loss (see below), but the outcome is not clarified.
NB A legal requirement exists for a full ecological impact analysis
to be made - has it?
Please keep up the good work by keeping up to date others in the neighbourhood
who are not computer users or who don't take local newspapers.
Sunday 11th September
By yesterday afternoon all households in the area immediatedly affected
by the King Harry Lane development - around 1100 in all - should have
received a flier which outlines the current situation, together with information
on how to contact the planning committee. Thanks to all those who
volunteered to put papers through letter-boxes at such short notice.
Many of you have responded already to the request to put your email
address on our circulation list. Please do so if you have not done
it already - it makes a big difference if we can contact a large number
of residents quickly and efficiently. Just use the 'contact us' link
on the front page.
Talking to people while making deliveries house-to-house, it became apparent
that the number who knew nothing of this summer's developments was far
larger than the council maintains. This may be either because not all
households were considered affected or, perhaps, the anonymous envelopes
addressed only to 'The Occupier' were assumed to be unsolicited advertising
and consigned to the waste bin. Either way, residents are being denied
the notification to which they are entitled. One resident, living literally
a few yards from the boundary of the playing field knew nothing of the
In addition to taking a large slice of the deliveries, staff and regulars
at the 'King Harry' have been getting up a petition which will be taken
to the council office before Wednesday. It is amazing to think that the
pub is partly protected by a grade 2 listing, but this fact does not figure
in the application.
It appears that after last year's public meeting the National Playing
Fields Association was contacted and it confirmed that the King Harry
Lane field was on their 'at risk' list. While it is not quite clear what
powers this involves, in the absence of the curiously delayed report on
green spaces and playing fields in St Albans (due last November, expected
this September but not yet on the horizon) it is a signal that the loss
of this playing field is not negligible as Hallam suggests.
Also, planning is subject to a series of Planning Policy Guidelines (PPG's)
which in turn impose legal requirements on local authority planning. PPG17,
whose revised version was confirmed in 2002 invokes: "Statutory Instrument
1996 No.1817 which amends the Town and Country Planning (General Development
Procedure) Order 1995(b). This amendment requires local planning authorities
to consult Sport England about developments that affect land used as playing
fields". Sport England, whose website claims "We provide the
strategic lead for sport in England and we are responsible for delivering
the Government's sporting objectives", must, by law be consulted
on all planning applications affecting playing fields. The government
website www.culture.gov.uk/sport/playing_fields.htm says Sport England's
"policy is to object to all proposals unless there are exceptional
A local resident who had reasons to object to a planning application
got in touch with us. Having pursued the application right up to the planning
committee she used her permitted 3 minutes of objection to point out that
it would be actually illegal to pass the plans, information she had discovered
on national and local government websites. Despite this, the committee
went ahead and approved it. Do we have anyone in the area with experience
of the legality of planning processes who is willing to help out?
At a more general level, isn't it absurd that the total amount of
time allowed at a planning committee meeting to all the objectors to a
planning proposal combined is 3 minutes, irrespective of the implications
of the proposal. Hence, adding over 260 dwellings to an overloaded
neighbourhood merits the same time allowance as one of the items the committee
discussed on Monday 5th September, namely 'lamp post No 416 outside Morrisons
I believe that a councillor may accompany a protester to a planning meeting
and make representations after the 3 minutes presentation is complete.
An odd feature of Verulam ward is that all its three councillors are on
the planning committee, Sue Campbell and Clare Ellis as members and Martin
Frearson as chair. Is there not some kind of conflict between their neutral
roles as arbiters of planning and that of champion to their constituents?
Does this not weaken our ability to make our case to the council?
The revised application 6th September 2005
As some Verulam residents, but not everyone, knows, Hallam Land Management
submitted a revised application during August. Since many people directly
affected neither received a letter from the council or saw the formal
announcement in a local newspaper, the number of responses to the council
by the 14th September deadline may be drastically reduced - which may
be the intention.
Please try to see the plans either on line or at the council offices
and let the planning committee know your opinion. Contact details for
comments on the plans are as follows:
Plan ref: 5/2005/1727
Phone: 01727 866100 Ext 2714
Fax: 01727 845658
Post: St Albans City & District Council,
Planning & Building Control, St Peters St,
St Albans Herts AL1 3JE
Since the principles of local democracy are being compromised by the
timing of the application, local opposition, so strongly expressed at
last November's public meeting, must be mobilised at short notice. If
you are alarmed at the prospect of this development please try to do the
- Contact the council before the deadline of 14th September.
- Be prepared to protest when the proposal is put before the
planning committee. Another meeting of Verulam residents is possible,
also participation in the council planning meeting itself. The time
and place of such events will be notified to those interested by email
(see below) as well as appearing on this page.
- We will try to post all information as it emerges on this website.
Future meetings of the committee this year at which the proposal could
be considered are 26 Sept, 17 Oct, 7 and 28 Nov and 19 Dec. Keep
checking this website!
- email St Albans Voice on email@example.com
so that we can include your email address on a distribution list
for future communication. Also let us know any information you may
have on the matter - the aim of this website is to channel local opinion
on local issues..
- Lobby the local councillors and our Member of Parliament. Councillors'
contact details are on http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/local-democracy/councillors.htm.
There is also a link on that page to Anne Main our new MP. (NB sometimes
I have had trouble getting the St Albans website, but leaving off the
'www.' has been successful - I don't know why)
- Spread the word to neighbours and others who may not be aware of the
Below is a letter I sent to the local papers this week which gives some
idea of the new application.
Tony Dix 6th September 2005
Letter to Herts Advertiser & The Review
August is the only month in which St Albans enjoys some relief from the
pressures of traffic and overcrowding which increasingly afflict the City.
So, while much of its population were away or enjoying the summer weather,
Hallam Land Management resubmitted their application for building over
the playing fields on King Harry Lane, a development bound to add to the
stress of an already overloaded environment.
Letters from the council, dated 24th August, gave twenty-one days to receive
comments from the public. As far as I can discover, very few residents
in Verulam ward received these letters, perhaps only those who wrote individual
letters following the original application. Also, letters bore individual
addresses but only "The Occupier", rather than the named occupant.
Since the strength of feeling in the neighbourhood was evident in the
packed public meeting last November, the strategy of Hallam and the council
seems designed to minimise the opportunity for a local response to the
A comparison of the 2004 application with this year's perhaps explains
the apparent collusion of our council with the developers. The significant
differences from last year are the sweeteners which Hallam is offering
the council in the form of contributions to the development of Westminster
Lodge, to library services and leisure provision, as well as a plot of
land to build housing for the elderly. This decreases the number of houses
to be built by Hallam by 36, but with an unknown number of units for the
elderly. The application suggests that the elderly will not contribute
as much to the traffic problems - a view contradicted by the four households
within 50 feet of me with drivers aged from the seventies to the nineties!
Most significantly, the number of units Hallam propose in the application
is, as they state repeatedly, illustrative only. In other words we will
not know their actual intentions unless the application is approved.
Much remains, in particular the traffic options, including the demolition
of the King Harry public house and a link road behind St Stephen's church
(the latter an expensive option which has been refused in earlier plans
involving the nearby retail park). There is no assurance that the traffic
impact of the development would be minimal, apart from Hallam's own traffic
analysis whose assumptions and calculations are not presented. Neither
is the ability of other infrastructure elements to accommodate the increased
population assured. Schools, medical services, drainage and much more
seem likely to be overstretched
One cannot deny the pressure of population on housing in the South East.
But this does not justify embarking on desperate schemes which will damage
the environment and quality of life for new as well as existing residents.
In the limited time which has been allowed us, may I urge as many as possible
to see the plans (Ref 5/2005/1727) either at the council office or on
the council website and send your comments to the council before the deadline
of 14th September.