CALA and Polo – Appeal Granted

 

The Cala Homes Development – UPDATE 23rd March 2024

 

As many of you will already be aware, after St Albans and District Council refused the Polo
and Cala applications to develop land north and south of Chiswell Green Lane in autumn
2022, an appeal was launched by the developers, Cala Homes and Headlands Way (Polo)
and a conjoined inquiry was held by the Planning Inspectorate in April 2023.

 

Keep Chiswell Green was granted ‘Rule 6 status’ as an interested party at the inquiry.
Therefore, we were entitled to have access to all supporting documentation submitted by the
other parties to provide us with time to prepare our official responses and arguments against
the proposed developments.

 

After nine gruelling days of listening to evidence and arguments from the appellants (Cala
and Polo), St Albans and City District Council, and providing evidence of our own, the
Inspector, Michael Boniface MSc MRTPI, was charged with making the decision to either
approve or dismiss the appeals by Cala Homes and Headlands Way (Polo).

 

In May 2023, Keep Chiswell Green wrote to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing
and Communities, Michael Gove, asking him to ‘recover’ the appeal decision and gave him
our reasons as to why he should dismiss the appeals. We also asked our subscribers to
email Mr Gove to support our request, and 450 of you obliged! This huge response made
the Chiswell Green appeals ‘controversial’ and gave Mr Gove another reason to recover the
decision.

 

At the beginning of June 2023, we were advised that Mr Gove had indeed decided to
recover the decision himself and consequently, the Planning Inspector, Michael Boniface,
was required to present his report and his recommendation to Mr Gove for him to make his
own decision.

 

After having waited almost a year, on the 22 nd March 2024 Michael Gove, Secretary of State
for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities delivered the devastating decision that the
appeals had both been granted, effectively approving the construction of 391 new dwellings
to the south and 330 to the north of Chiswell Green Lane.

 

Against a backdrop of rhetoric from Mr Gove and his ministerial colleagues in support of
protection for the Green Belt, the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework in
December last year with greater protection for the Green Belt, and a recent history of 15 of
the last 18 appeals to be decided at Inquiry being dismissed, we are stunned that Mr Gove
has gone so categorically against the trend and approved these appeals.

 

The decision appears to hinge on one sole aspect – that St Albans City and District Council
has not delivered the volume of housing that the Government has targeted them to deliver.
This is a political decision – a punishment for St Albans.

 

Critically, this decision now also sets the tone for all the other Green Belt applications in our
District, as well as for Green Belt applications across the whole country; our entire District is
at significant risk until the District has delivered in excess of 15,000 new dwellings (using
2,000 acres of our Green Belt), over 1,000 of which could be built in Chiswell Green in
addition to the 721 approved by this decision.

 

According to St Albans and District Council’s current Draft Local Plan, 98 houses would be
built on Miriam Lane which, if permitted, would act as a gateway to building on the whole
parcel of land to the south of Chiswell Green Lane. This could amount to over 1,000 new
houses just within the Chiswell Green Lane/Noke Lane boundary, including the development
of Butterfly World in addition to the Cala Homes and Polo Field sites.

 

It has been 2 years since we started this campaign and, despite the savage outcome of the
Cala Homes and Polo Field appeals, we feel we have all done the community proud by
standing up against the mass development of our precious Green Belt.

 

However, we are also not quite ready to lie down and take this as a final decision and we are
now considering our next steps. We have six weeks from the date of the decision made by
Mr Gove to decide whether we have grounds to challenge his decision. So, we are seeking
expert advice as to whether we have a legal case to seek a Judicial Review through the High
Court.

 

If you are able to help us toward our upcoming legal fees, please click here to support us:

Donate

Mr Gove’s full report can be found at the following link:
Recovered appeals: land south of Chiswell Green Lane and land north of Chiswell Green Lane, St. Albans (refs: 3313110 and 3312277 – 22 March 2024) (publishing.service.gov.uk) 

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