Will Radeltt Airfield Let St Albans off the Hook?

As ive said here before if you really want to stop the railfreight terminal allow housing on the site.  As a brownfield site the NPPF now allows it providing it meets the visual test.    So when will the City get its finger out.  If it really wanted positive planning it would hointly develop the site itself with the County Council and make it the centrepiece of its long delayed local plan.

St Albans Review

The co-owner of St Albans CityFootball Club said he would be ready to submit a planning application for a stadium and 6,000 new homes on Radlett Airfield within two weeks.

John McGowan said a major land developer, who did not want to be named, had stepped forward with up to £17 million for the scheme.

Hertfordshire County Council deferred its sale of the land to Helioslough, which was hoping to build a strategic rail freight terminal on the site, on Monday.

A St Albans county councillor has warned the Saints’ scheme, along with another proposed by prospective parliamentary candidate Kerry Pollard, may “open the door” for the rail terminal.

Liberal Democrat Sandy Walkington said: “Everyone would prefer, if the site is going to be developed, for housing to be built there rather than a freight terminal.

“But the one major argument against this strategic, national piece of infrastructure is that the site is on Green Belt.”

Mr McGowan said the football club would be ready to put in outline planning permission within the next two weeks, for 6,000 homes and a new stadium.

The club has been struggling with its aging infrastructure in Clarence Park, and earlier this week described the situation as “unviable”.

Mr McGowan said: “I spent the entire day on Tuesday with a major land developer who has stated they will support me with a joint bid to match Helioslough’s offer.

“We understand the offer is 10 times the county valuation of £1.7 million, i.e £17 million, subject to outline planning.

“I’m ready to take a step forward, I can make an application in two weeks for outline planning permission.

“I need the green light from people. I need positive people saying they can get us into meetings and help us push this through committees.”

The development would fulfil a sizable chunk of St Albans District Council’s obligation to build 12,000 new homes by 2031.

Dreda Gordon, Labour councillor for The Colneys, said: “St Albans has a target of 11,000 homes to build and the council is looking at Green Belt sites. There is a huge housing shortage and we have to provide these homes.

“St Albans City Football Club is in desperate need of a new site, and they have looked long and hard throughout the district.

“This is a Green Belt site, which needs to be taken into consideration, but if this is a solution to that problem then I would support it.”

Councillor Walkington added: “Everybody knows that at some stage housing needs to be build, young people need somewhere to live.

“The football club does need a new home, Clarence Park is very run down. It’s too small and it’s not in the right place.

“It’s in a listed park in a residential area, so it’s very difficult to see how it could be improved. I admire the ambition that the owners are bringing to the club.”

A housing development on the Radlett airfield site could raise “five or six times” more money for the county council than an unpopular rail freight development.

The decision to defer the sale of the former aerodrome was made by Hertfordshire councillors yesterday (Monday).

The St Albans Review revealed on Friday how prospective parliamentary candidate for St Albans, Kerry Pollard, planned to build houses on the site.

He said: “We are meeting with Taylor Wimpey on Tuesday to make sure they’re absolutely focussed on the way forward.

“There is only a small window to take advantage of here. Next we need to broker a meeting with the county council to start talking about the details.

“I’m really pleased we managed to put this thing together in three short weeks, the council will get five or six times what they would have received from Helioslough.

“This is the biggest result for St Albans for a number years.”

Mr Pollard said the details of the planning agreement would take a couple of years to put together.

Co-owner of the club John McGowan said he would be interested in working with a developer to build a new stadium on the site.

He said the club was initially prepared to offer £1.2 million to buy the site, which they understood to be worth £1.7 million, as reported wrongly in other local newspapers.

However, Robert Gordon, leader of the council, dismissed this figure yesterday, suggesting the land was worth “ten times that”.

Mr McGowan said: “The club is not sustainable at the moment and we have made an application to see if we can be included within the s106 agreement if at all possible.

“I’m happy to link up with a developer, whether it is housing scheme or not, it’s an ideal opportunity.

“It’s only a big maybe, we’re trying to foot in the door and it’s really difficult.”


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