The Built Environment Group examine all major applications for sites in Harpenden (town and rural parish) every week and where necessary makes recommendations to the planning authority at St Albans.
It is a part of the Society's service to the community which we believe is much valued. In addition to examination of the weekly plans lists, we welcome comments from members who may have an interest in a particular proposal. We will consider such comments and views when formulating our own response to a particular application.
Membership of the group is open to members of the Society. It is obviously desirable that anyone joining the Group should have an interest in architecture and the built environment, but that interest can be entirely amateur.
Harpenden's "Neighbourhood Plan" (NP), locally supported by a referendum result, purported "to ensure residents have some control over what development takes place over the next 15years". Time will tell how effective (by way of enforcement) the Plan proves to be in ensuring developers abide by its provisions.
Over the past year an overwhelming number of planning applications have been made by Harpenden homeowners wishing to extend or rebuild their properties.
The scale of some projects seems inappropriate and detrimental to neighbours' concerns. There has also been a trend for traditional dwellings to be demolished and replaced with what many would consider ultra-modern architectural designs which, in the Harpenden Society's view, are of such radical appearance as to mar the character of the street scene. Regrettably, precedents have been set, making it difficult for any neighbour's (or NP-based) objections to be upheld by SADC's planning decision makers.
Redevelopment by Jarvis of the Pan Autos site in Grove Road, in the face of considerable local opposition to the size and (three storey) height of the building, was finally given planning consent, for 39 flats, albeit on condition that some "affordable" housing be included, and a financial contribution be made by the developer to a variety of improvement projects nearby.
Fairview Homes' development on the former Harpenden House Hotel site in Southdown Road was completed during 2019. Renovation of the grade II* listed Welcombe House into five spacious and luxurious apartments has been widely approved. The adjacent new-build terrace houses and apartments are in what some consider an unhappy contrast, although the Fairview development as a whole has been awarded the Harpenden Society's Award plaque for 2019.
Plans for the redevelopment by Beechcroft Homes of the former Redclyffe care home in Salisbury Avenue have been rejected twice following objections from adjoining owners as well as being deemed inappropriate for what is a designated conservation area. Meanwhile, proposals for a new care home to be built in Coldharbour Lane on the Chelford Fabrics site have been summarily rejected.
The issues surrounding the big 580-home "North West Harpenden" scheme are dealt with in the chairman's report.