St Albans District Council has identified four potential Green Belt sites, which could be under threat of development, to meet housing needs across the district.

Around 2,500 houses could be built on land at the westernmost part of the district, next to Hemel Hempstead and to the west of this. This scheme would be constructed over two sites, which the council say would boost the city’s economy.

At the east of St Albans on land at Oaklands College the council has suggested the building of 1,000 houses, as well as 500 houses built to the north west of Harpenden.

This is part of the District’s Strategic Local Plan (SLP), which is based on independent studies that show the district’s housing need is forecast to be 8,720 new houses for the 20 year period to 2031.

Land is already available in existing urban areas and previously developed land in the Green Belt for around 5,000 of these houses. However further land will be necessary to provide the remaining 3,720 houses.

Councillor Julian Daly, leader of the council and portfolio holder for planning and conservation said the council risked “having little control of what developers do” if Green Belt land was not identified for housing.

He said: “None of us want to build in the Green Belt. However, the council needs to make progress with our Local Plan on the basis of national policy and the law.

“If we do not do so, we risk having little control of what developers do in our District. We must be objective in our appraisal and choice of sites.

“If it’s accepted that we must build in the Green Belt decisions will need to be based on solid evidence.

“Our role is to come to the best balance between economic, environmental and social aims, in order to deliver sustainable development, as defined by the Government. The report asks us to consider taking 1 per cent out of the Green Belt over the 20 year period.”

The district council’s planning policy committee is now working towards recommending a SLP draft to cabinet in September. If accepted, this document will be subject to public consultation in October and November time.

National planning policy requires councils to make progress with Local Plans, which aim to boost the supply of housing and meet the needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area.