It’s highly likely that St Albans City and District Council will need to prepare a new Local Plan after interventions by planning inspectors pointed out deep flaws in the version submitted by the Conservatives in the dying days of their administration.
Liberal Democrats see this as an opportunity to put combatting the climate emergency at the heart of a new Local Plan, in contrast to the Tories’ flawed plan which was sadly lacking in environmental initiatives.
Measures would include introducing higher energy standards, supporting green industries, increasing electric vehicle charging and planning for genuinely affordable housing, according to Chris White, the Lib Dem leader of the council.
Park Street rail freight interchange
At the centre of the Tories’ plan was a proposal to permit house-building on 3.5 million square metres of green belt land in place of the controversial Park Street strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) approved by the Conservative Government in 2014.
“In a nutshell, the Local Plan was fatally flawed at the time the previous Tory administration submitted it,” said Chris White, whose party took over the running of the council in May 2019.
“The reason why this administration was hoping that the plan, despite its weaknesses already identified, might make it to the finishing line is that we need to get on with the next stage. The assumptions on which it was based were already out of date by some years – in particular the plan did not acknowledge the vast change in the significance of the climate emergency.
Need for truly social housing
“A new plan will be able to take into account sustainability, energy standards, green industries, energy generation and sustainable transport measures. It will also be able give more emphasis to the city centre, which almost entirely lacks a vision and the need for truly social housing.”
He added: “The Government in its recent white paper has indicated that it wants far less say for local communities in new-style plans, although whether that turns into actual guidance remains to be seen, given the wealth of opposition to its proposals.
“But the issue of the Park Street strategic rail freight interchange shows what happens when local people’s wishes are not paramount and the Government imposes its will despite the feelings of the local community.”
- Liberal Democrats continue to oppose the imposition of the Park Street strategic rail freight interchange. Join the 1,000+ St Albans residents who’ve already signed our petition calling on the Government to stop this monstrous development.
Sign the petition: http://www.stalbanslibdems.org.uk/rail_freight