Time running out to share views on massive East Hemel development

An artist's impression of the East Hemel development from The Crown Estate
An artist's impression of the East Hemel development from The Crown Estate

Residents have less than one month to submit their views on a proposed scheme for up to 2,500 homes.

The East Hemel development will see two large housing estates and a commercial area built on land between Hemel and the M1 motorway, which is owned by the Crown Estate.

Even though the development borders Hemel Hempstead, it is on land within the boundaries of St Albans District Council.

The idea of East Hemel was first proposed by Government Inspectors in 2006 and it now forms part of the emerging St Albans Strategic Local Plan (SLP), which was first drafted in 2014.

But the Crown Estate, which returns its profits to the Treasury, has held consultation evenings throughout June in the Hemel area, of which 900 people are said to have attended.

And some nearby residents remain uneasy about the plans, pictured left.

Colin Gage, vice-chair of the Leverstock Green Village Association, said: “Although the LGVA and many of the village residents are opposed to the development, we recognise it will be difficult to overturn them in their entirety.

“There is a critical shortage of housing in the area and there are limited options where houses can be built.

“Since Hemel Hempstead was developed as a ‘new town’ over 40 years ago, this tract of land has been earmarked for eventual use as housing, and compared with much of the surrounding Green Belt, the land designated by SADC tends to be inferior in ‘Green Belt’ terms.

“Although this land is in St Albans, DBC has stated that if the land was in Dacorum, it would probably be doing the same thing.

“Given that there are limited prospects of stopping the development as a whole eventually going ahead, the LGVA is determined to limit the impact on the village and to try and retain the character of Leverstock Green.

“However, there may be opportunities to improve amenities, such as better medical facilities, which will benefit the community as a whole.”

The Crown Estate says the scheme would create 8,000 new jobs, and 40 per cent of the homes would be ‘affordable’. It is aiming to submit a planning application later this year, and if approved, work would start in late 2019 with the view to first home completions in 2021.

Submit your views at www.easthemel.co.uk by August 4.