ARP delighted to announce that planning permission has been granted by the Secretary of State for 348 dwellings and the redevelopment of Oaklands College’s campus in the St Albans Green Belt.
In September 2013, ARP on behalf of Taylor Wimpey and alongside the College’s advisors, VRG Planning, prepared and submitted a full planning application for 348 new homes as enabling for the redevelopment of the College’s St Albans Campus to provide new and refurbished buildings. Notwithstanding extensive pre-application consultation with St Albans City and District Council (SACDC), statutory consultees and public engagement exercise, the application was refused by SACDC but following a Public Inquiry planning permission was granted by the Secretary of State in October 2017 who agreed with his Inspector, Philip Ware, that the much-needed improvements to the college and the special educational benefit offered by the proposals can only be delivered with the housing development. The Secretary of State recognised the important role Oaklands College plays as the main provider of further education in the District and the very poor quality of its existing buildings unsuited to the provision of the high standard of education it provides concluding that “Overall, there are persuasive material considerations which warrant a decision other than in accordance with the development plan” (SoS Para 40) and that “the considerations summarised above clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and the limited harm to the character and appearance of the area, thereby justifying the proposal on the basis of very special circumstances” (SoS Para 39).
This long-awaited and much welcomed decision will enable the provision of a 21st century college that will afford students the best possible opportunities to develop and excel in their chosen fields, together with a substantial amount of new housing in an area of acute need.