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Good news! Appeal dismissal in Green Belt at Tollgate Road, Colney Heath

26th January 2024

Good news for the Green Belt at Colney Heath in St Albans District. The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed an appeal from Vistry Homes who wanted to build 150 dwellings in the Green Belt.

We’re delighted with the Inspector’s decision to dismiss the planning appeal. The applicant proposed to build 150 dwellings in the open countryside within the Green Belt, at Tollgate Road in the village of Colney Heath.

Along with local residents we objected to the proposal, and St Albans City & District Council refused permission. The applicant then appealed the refusal, and the appeal was heard by the Planning Inspectorate at public Inquiry in September 2023.

The Planning Inspector has now issued his Appeal Decision dismissing the appeal and upholding the Council’s refusal of permission.

Key factors in the decision?

Among other factors, the Inspector concluded that the applicant’s development proposal constituted:

  • Substantial harm to the openness of the Green Belt and to its purpose in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • Significant harm to the rural landscape character and appearance of the appeal site and the surrounding countryside;
  • Harm to the settings and significance of several Grade I and Grade II listed buildings / heritage assets;
  • Lack of genuine choice of sustainable modes of travel to key facilities which would result in journeys being made by car.

He summarised his decision as follows.

“Even though the provision of market and affordable housing attracts the highest level of weight of any consideration in this case, overall I judge that the housing and other benefits do not clearly outweigh the combination and extent of harms to the Green Belt, landscape character and appearance, and heritage assets, and arising from the limitations in the choice of sustainable transport modes. Consequently the very special circumstances necessary to justify the proposal as inappropriate development in the Green Belt do not exist. I conclude the appeal is dismissed.”

What does this mean for other pending development proposals in the Green Belt?

At Colney Heath and across Hertfordshire there are many other speculative planning applications for inappropriate development within the Green Belt that are still pending. Each case is always decided on its own merits and Planning Inspectorate decisions do not set legal precedent. That said, the factors in the Tollgate Road appeal are very similar to those in other cases, and we take heart from this decision that upholds national and local planning policy protections of the Green Belt.

And the Green Belt is crucially important for people and for nature – you can read more about it here.

Please help protect the Hertfordshire countryside

We are CPRE Hertfordshire, the countryside charity. We campaign to protect and promote the countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. We are a membership charity and rely on membership subscriptions and donations to fund our work. Please consider joining us or making a donation today. It’s easy and quick to join or donate online, and any amount is hugely appreciated.

lush green pastures with woodland beyond
Proposed development site in the Green Belt at Tollgate Road, Colney Heath Eliza Hermann