Plans have been approved to build three homes on open space in Stevenage, despite major concerns from residents.

The planning application, made by Stevenage Borough Council, to build three three-bedroom homes on land opposite 25 and 26 St Albans Drive was approved at a Planning and Development Committee on Tuesday evening.

The plans had been met with widespread objection, with residents launching a petition, while campaigners sited a toilet on the proposed development site, with a sign saying "Bog Off! We Object!".

The Comet: The toilet placed by campaigners in protest of the St Albans Drive development.The toilet placed by campaigners in protest of the St Albans Drive development. (Image: Deborah Outteridge)

Speaking on behalf of residents at the meeting, Contour Planning director Justin Mills raised a number of issues, most notably that the space was used by children who live in the area, and that he believed the application "undermined one of the key principles of Stevenage".

"My appraisal of the application has found that it is clearly contrary to a number of your planning policies," he said. 

"In the context of the application’s site, just a stone’s throw away from the 800 homes that are planned at Forster Park, residents can’t quite comprehend why the council is so desperate to build three houses on this very small site.

"In doing so, you’re prepared to disregard your adopted planning policies, and undermine one of the key principles of Stevenage, namely access to open space.

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"This is open space which more than 100 local people have told you they use and want to protect. For these reasons, I respectfully request this application is refused."

The Comet: Justin Mills of Contour Planning spoke on behalf of residents.Justin Mills of Contour Planning spoke on behalf of residents. (Image: Stevenage Borough Council)

Despite this, Stevenage Borough Council's senior planning officer, Linda Sparrow, said there was no reason to refuse the application.

"The site is undesignated in the Local Plan, and therefore deemed to be a windfall site," she continued. 

"It is a fully grassed open area, which is used informally by children, and is of good size to accommodate that use.

"There are smaller pockets of open space along the road and there is a larger area of greener space approximately 100 metres to the north, which is fully bounded by residential dwellings and landscaping so as to offer a safer environment for children to play away from the road.

"As such, the site is considered to be an underused urban site. The land is owned by the council and is approximately 730sqm in size.

"There are other areas of open spaces that serve the same purpose as this site, and suitable hedgerows, tress, and grassland for wildlife, which means the loss of this space has been suitably mitigated against."

The Comet: Stevenage Borough Council's senior planning officer, Linda Sparrow.Stevenage Borough Council's senior planning officer, Linda Sparrow. (Image: Stevenage Borough Council)