A St Albans car garage will be replaced with a new fully affordable apartment block.

St Albans District Council’s planning referrals committee unanimously backed the proposals on the site of York House, Guildford Road, on September 27.

The developer's agent told the meeting it was an “incredibly rare” opportunity for St Albans to offer 100 per cent affordable housing on a new development.

Council officers recommended approval for the scheme, which includes 16 one-bedroom flats and nine two-bedroom flats.

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The homes will be operated and maintained by Hightown Housing Association, which already operates a number of affordable housing schemes across Hertfordshire.

Mark Schmull, of agent Arrow Planning, said the plans would address a need for affordable housing in St Albans, while also avoiding development on the green belt.

Mr Schmull said: “This scheme is incredibly rare as it will deliver the entire development as affordable housing on a brownfield site, something which is almost unique in the district at the moment.”

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

A CGI showing how the new York House apartment block will look. Photo: Vincent & Gorbing

The applicant had previously withdrawn an application for a larger scheme of 27 units, and the developer said the new application had taken concerns about overdevelopment of the site into consideration.

The application was called-in to the committee by Cllr Anthony Rowlands (Liberal Democrat, Ashley), who raised concerns with the scale and massing on the four-storey building, an impact on neighbouring properties and that the 25 parking spaces would be inadequate for the site.

Speaking during the meeting, Cllr Frances Leonard (Conservative, Sandridge) also raised concerns about the impact on daylight for some surrounding properties, but acknowledged the benefits of the scheme.

There were also points raised about the residential building being planned in a largely employment area, although it was noted other schemes are under way along Guildford Road.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: The site current houses a car garage and a small industrial unit. Photo:: Google Maps

The site currently houses a car garage and a small industrial unit. Photo: Google Maps

Other councillors spoke highly of the proposals, with Cllr David Mitchell (Independent, Redbourn) adding  it was an “excellent opportunity for 25 affordable houses on a plot that will improve the local area, rather than diminish the local area.”

The plans were unanimously approved, subject to a Section 106 agreement that will include contributions to local parks, libraries and leisure centres.

Council officers also confirmed if developers later opt to provide any less than 100 per cent affordable housing they will need to reapply for planning permission.