Campaigners striving to keep their neighbourhood ‘green’ have won a second battle over housing in just under a month.

The plans for nearly 400 homes in Chiswell Green were rejected on Monday night with St Albans District Council’s planning committee overruling a recommendation to approve the scheme.

The council’s planning officer George Burgess concluded there were “very special circumstances” to justify the scheme, such as affordable homes and a school – and development manager Sarah Ashton said she was “concerned” this site would be “difficult” to argue at an appeal.

Read more: Hertsmere's local plan likely to miss Government deadline

But the planning committee had multiple concerns about the loss of green belt and were keen to wait for its new local plan to be finalised rather than approve “speculative” schemes on a first-come-first-served basis.

Watford Observer: An outline of the proposed development siteAn outline of the proposed development site (Image: Google Maps)

The application put forward by Cala Homes was up to 391 homes and land set aside for a primary school in Chiswell Green Lane.

Planning agent Justin Kenworthy said his clients would deliver “much needed housing”, 40% affordable housing, 10% biodiversity net gain and a £12 million investment into the local economy. He also referenced the council currently having the second oldest local plan in the country.

Having spoken out against plans for 330 homes on a nearby green belt site in October, Keep Chiswell Green’s Jed Griffiths returned to outline his group’s objections.

He said 98% of residents opposed the scheme and the harm to “prime” green belt is “indisputable”. He also claimed there is no need for another school, and spoke about the loss of a riding school and livery and the impact on traffic.

Read more: Affordable housing development in Chiswell Green rejected

Watford Observer: Chiswell Green LaneChiswell Green Lane (Image: Google Street View)

During the debate, councillors appeared to understand the need for new housing in the district but feared the ongoing local plan process would be “undermined” if this application was approved.

It was described as inappropriate development in the green belt, affecting its openness and causing “urban sprawl” and that the “benefits do not outweigh the harm”.

They also had “serious” concerns about traffic.

The application was refused by the majority of the plannin committee prompting applause and cheers from members of the public in the chamber.  

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