Homes plan for Green Belt land 'will not benefit local community' (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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Oaklands College's homes plan for Green Belt land, south side of Sandpit Lane, 'will not benefit local community'
Controversial plans for 348 homes on Green Belt land in St Albans will put a huge strain on the local infrastructure, resident campaigners say.
During a meeting on Thursday, October 4 more than 200 residents turned out to oppose Oaklands College's £51 million proposals to build a residential housing development on the south side of Sandpit Lane.
The college Principal Zoe Hancock hopes to sell off part of its green land to developer Taylor Wimpey to raise funds to revamp and sustain the campus for 30 years to come.
However, a 200-strong residents group Marshalswick North Residents Association (MNRA) are strongly opposed to the development because they say the site’s scale and density will visually dominate local landscape, existing residential properties and overwhelm local infrastructure and capacity.
Gaynor Clarke, an MNRA committee member, said: "We feel that these plans cannot be regarded in isolation.
"I don’t feel it is justifiable. It is an absolutely gorgeous piece of land that has had a continued agricultural use. We understand that the college want to improve their facilities and it would contribute to an educational role for the next 30 years.
"However we ask, what about the children that won’t be able to get in to their local primary school and secondary school because they are competing with 350 more families.
"Families are already struggling to access local school places at primary level, which must be taken into account.
"This will not benefit the local community. Without the necessary infrastructure of schools and local GP’s it will place an unjustifiable burden on the local and wider community."
The Barnfield Road resident also said residents were concerned about the the gradient of the site. If plans were to go ahead, she said residents living in Sandpit Lane would be overlooked by the houses.
Residents also said they were concerned about congestion because Sandpit Lane is frequently brought to a standstill during peak periods and another 700 cars would have a knock on effect on access to the city centre and station.
Barnfield Road residents, who are opposite to the proposed development said the road was already used as a rat run into Marshalswick by traffic from east and west Barnfield Road.
John Foster, Sandridge Parish Councillor, who attended the meeting, said when asking people to raise their hands in favour, only one person showed support.
He said: "I understand there is a demand for homes however we do not have the infrastructure to support this huge development. The strain on schools, highways and doctors surgeries would be detrimental.
"It doesn’t make sense to burden a community with something it cannot absorb. As much as we would like to see Oaklands College have a nice campus it cannot be at the price of our community.
"This piece of land is a buffer zone, which should stop neighbouring towns from joining with one another. This could turn in to an urban conglomeration.
"I do not understand why redundant commercial sites and brownfield sites are not being considered. "
After the meeting Ms Hancock, said she was grateful to NMRA for inviting the college to present their plans.
She said: "Public consultations like these are really important to the community and we hope to have emphasised our need to invest in our facilities to make them fit-for-purpose, with the aim of providing the community with a college that we will all benefit from for many years to come.
"We are aware of the potential impact this development will have on our neighbouring community and we will continue to work with all concerned to minimise this wherever possible."
To view the application which is currently awaiting validation from council officers visit St Albans District Council website and type reference number 5/2013/2589.
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