Labour councillors have supported proposed changes to the Meadows redevelopment scheme, in response to comments from local residents received as part of the consultation process. The scheme, which will provide up to 100 much-needed new council homes, had attracted comment because of the potential loss of 15% of the surrounding green space. However, council officers are now working on revisions to the scheme that could see more of that green space preserved.
Executive Councillor for Housing, Richard Johnson welcomed the news;
“We have listened to and taken on board residents’ concerns, which should always form a central part of the planning of any new development. Right from day one, we’ve been clear that the scheme could and would be revised on the basis of any feedback received, and these comments have been invaluable in helping us shape its future.
“So it is strange that the Liberal Democrats appear to be claiming we have not properly consulted on the Meadows redevelopment.
Let us not forget that several years ago, they tried to push through projects in Water Lane and Aylesborough Close that displaced vulnerable elderly residents and totally failed to take into account any of the objections they raised.
“There are really two issues at play here, and it’s vital that we get the right balance between them.
“Currently there are over 2,600 households on the council’s housing waiting list. Ward councillors both in King’s Hedges and Arbury – and across the city – regularly hear from residents in extreme housing need, who are living in overcrowded accommodation and may have been waiting to be housed for a significant length of time.
“Our priority as a Labour City Council is to provide new council homes. The £70 million funding we received as part of the devolution deal has kickstarted this ambitious building programme taking place across the city, and is absolutely essential if we are to tackle the housing crisis effectively.
“At the same time, we need to ensure that the open spaces around these new homes work for the local community. We have lots of positive improvements planned to St. Albans recreation ground, including a focus on enhancing biodiversity and a multi-use games area which all local children will be able to benefit from.”
Cllr Rosy Moore, who is the current Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and the City Centre, highlighted some of the potential environmental benefits of the development.
“We will be building homes that are environmentally sustainable, focusing on renewable energy and low-carbon emissions, as well as promoting biodiversity. This is a brilliant chance for us to get the environmental aspects of our housing developments spot on and make real strides towards addressing the climate emergency and meeting our target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”
Council officers have already held a meeting for concerned residents; submission of the planning application has now been delayed to allow for further public consultation on the scheme, which will take place after the summer holidays. The council has also set up a dedicated email address for any residents wanting information on the scheme firstname.lastname@example.org.