Plans for seven homes on the site of a former youth club have been given the go-ahead by councillors.

As part of the proposal, the disused Sopwell Youth Centre, off Cottonmill Lane, will be demolished.

And the triangular site – which runs alongside the Abbey Line railway – will be used for the development of seven three-bed properties.

The site will be given a new access, from Cottonmill Lane, and landscaped. A new enclosure will be built around the existing electricity substation.

Network Rail had raised concerns about the impact the development could have on the nearby Cottonmill Lane Level Crossing.

But on December 2, the application – submitted by St Albans City and District Council – was given the go-ahead at a meeting of the council’s planning referrals committee.

According to the officer’s report to the committee, Network Rail raised concerns that the development would increase the risk at the level crossing.

They requested a number of conditions, including straightening the crossing, installing new fencing and renewing the crossing surface,  which they said should be bright yellow in the danger zone.

They also said the developers should be required to improve the gates at the crossing, so that they self-close properly.

However council officers said the request was not "fair or reasonable" given the size of the development.

During the meeting Labour Cllr Katherine Gardner said she was very concerned that in accepting the proposal the council would be going against the advice of Network Rail.

She said: “It seems to me very unwise if they are recommending additional safety proposals as part of this application that we go against the  professionals’ recommendation around rail safety on a level crossing where it is known there is potential for accidents."

But  in contrast Conservative Cllr Frances Leonard (Sandridge) said she found the demands of Network Rail “quite extraordinary”.

She suggested that when the youth club was open there would have been more ‘vulnerable’ people using the crossing.

And she thought what Network Rail was asking for – including fencing is put 1m within the actual site for their access – was "over and above".