Go-ahead for 1,100-home Herts urban extension on former green belt site

A Hertfordshire council has granted permission for up to 1,100 homes on a former green belt site, despite the quantum of development exceeding that set out in its core strategy.

An artist's impression of plans for the West Hemel Hemsptead site. Image: Barratt David Wilson, Taylor Wimpey, Stimpsons and Bletsoes
An artist's impression of plans for the West Hemel Hemsptead site. Image: Barratt David Wilson, Taylor Wimpey, Stimpsons and Bletsoes

Earlier this month, Dacorum Borough Council members approved plans for 1,100 homes on a 52 hectare greenfield site about 1.5 miles to the west of Hemel Hempstead.

Full planning permission was granted for 350 homes and outline permission for a further 750 dwellings.

The proposed scheme also includes land for up to seven gypsy/traveller pitches, play areas, a site for a primary school and nursery, specialist accommodation for the elderly with up to 70 rooms, a convenience store and three shops, a community facility and a medical facility.

Applicants Barratt David Wilson, Taylor Wimpey, Stimpsons and Bletsoes secured permission on the West Hemel Hempstead site despite proposing a scheme significantly larger than the 900-home allocation in the council’s core strategy.

Dacorum planning officers advised they were "satisfied that the proposed quantum has been robustly evidenced and justified" and that "the increased housing numbers will not result in any additional harm whilst they would result in additional benefits". 

The West Hemel Hempstead site was removed from the green belt upon adoption of the council’s 2013 core strategy. A site allocations DPD adopted in July 2017 includes a masterplan for the allocation.

Officers said a policy-compliant 40 per cent affordable housing contribution is expected to be secured, comprising 75 per cent homes for affordable rent and 25 per cent intermediate housing. 

Noting that Dacorum Council is not currently able to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, officers said the proposed scheme would "make a vital contribution to maintaining an essential pipeline of housing supply".

"The proposals represent a suitable, sustainable and deliverable development at the council’s largest residential allocation," they said.

"It will deliver much needed market and affordable housing along with other tangible benefits, whilst resulting in no significant harm. The planning balance clearly favours development of the proposals", the report concluded. 

In June this year, Dacorum councillors rejected plans for 268 homes and 1,405 square metres of office space in Hemel Hempstead, despite officers' advising that the proposed scheme was policy compliant and should be approved.

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