Public Inquiry – Friday 21st April


A summary of Today’s events:


This was a short day, over by lunch time with only two people taking the stand.


First up was Justin Kenworthy for CALA, expert witness on Planning and Planning Balance. Much of the time was spent discussing the degree of harm or benefit that would result from the development, eg. would the degree of harm that would result from the visual impact of the new development on existing residents be neutral (nothing), limited, moderate, substantial or very substantial.
The SADC barrister was trying to get Kenworthy to agree that he had overstated the benefits and underestimated the harm.


Harm to the Green Belt was the first area discussed in this context, followed by the availability of a site for a school (and then what kind of school). He stressed that this was a rare opportunity to provide a space to build a school without having to compulsory purchase the land.


Andrew did a very effective cross examination covering the weightings to be given as to special circumstances or very special circumstances affecting decisions in this area. Then as to the degrees of harm – limited, additional or substantial. Justin argued that overall there would only be limited harm to the Green Belt. Andrew argued that it was a matter of the degree of harm and the weight to be given to that degree of harm. Something for the Inspector to ponder. He also challenged the forecasted economic benefits the CALA site would bring to St Albans, arguing that their numbers likely included household spend from outside the local area, and therefore were inaccurate.


Justin said the development would be of high-quality design and delivery and these facts should be given significant weight. (I recall that early on KCG had evidence from other building sites that was counter to that).


Shirani then took over from Andrew and again debated whether there were very special circumstances to build on the Green Belt, this time from an ecological perspective.


After a break, Steve Collins, owner of the Polo land, took the stand and made an impassioned plea for the Inspector to allow the proposed building of Houses for Heroes on his land. He went through the history of Covid, the work done by the NHS and other essential workers who find it difficult to afford houses in St Albans, and how his subsidised scheme would be very significantly beneficial for them.


It was hard to follow that, so the Inspector closed the inquiry ahead of schedule.


It will resume at 9:30am on Monday 24th April.
It is scheduled to continue to Wednesday 26th April, but there is a good chance that this stage will finish on Tuesday 25th.


A further one day session has been scheduled for Tuesday 9th May.
A formal site visit by the Inspector and some interested parties is scheduled for the morning of Wednesday 10th May.


This visit on 10th May is probably the last time we will have an opportunity to demonstrate to the Inspector the strength of feeling we have in Chiswell Green against these plans. So then is the time to ensure that all banners and posters are in prominent positions. I would rate that a very, very, significant opportunity.


The link for the recording of today’s webcast is:


The link to Monday’s webcast is:
Scheduled start time is 9:30am.


Every day the Inquiry will be live-streamed so will be available to view online at: 

Further Inquiry details and documents are available on the SADC website at:

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