ARMSTRONG RIGG PLANNING
Site: Oaklands College, St Albans Campus, St Albans
Client: Taylor Wimpey & Oaklands College
ARP has for a number of years been instructed by Taylor Wimpey to provide strategic advice on redevelopment opportunities within Oaklands College’s portfolio of sites in Hertfordshire.
In September 2013, ARP alongside the College’s advisors, VRG Planning, prepared and submitted a full planning application for 348 new homes on Green Belt land as enabling for the redevelopment of the College’s St Albans Campus to provide new and refurbished buildings. The application sought to demonstrate that the redevelopment of the campus was ‘appropriate’ so far as it would ensure no greater harm to the Green Belt would result, and the ‘inappropriate’ housing element was justified on the grounds of very special circumstances.
The application was submitted following an extensive pre-application consultation and public engagement exercise. The consultation exercise, which followed Taylor Wimpey’s corporate approach, included two public exhibitions, one-to-one meetings with key stakeholders and interested parties, including the local objector group, and a programme of meetings with various officers at the County and District Councils. In order to guarantee frequent access and meaningful dialogue with officers so that the tight programme for submission was met, a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) was agreed between the applicants and St Albans City & District Council (SACDC). In view of the competition for, and scrutiny of, housing development proposals in St Albans an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was volunteered to minimise the prospects of a legal challenge.
The application was ultimately 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 that very special circumstances existed sufficient to justify the scale and type of development in the Green Belt.