Lawes Agricultural Trust and Rothamsted Research propose 1000 new homes and community wildlife zone near Redbourn

  • 31
  • JAN
  • 2018

A proposal to build homes, regenerate land along the River Ver and bring community benefits to a local area is being drawn up by the charitable trust behind Rothamsted Research, the world-class centre for agricultural science based at Harpenden.

The plan, which proposes up to 1000 new houses, would lift the number of local homes to a level that could potentially support a local secondary school and increased primary provision. An aerial view of the Rothamsted estate highlights the land being considered for redevelopment.

The proposal is sensitive to local needs and includes potential for improvements to existing facilities as a significant contribution to building a sustainable community locally, as part of broader district plans.

St Albans City & District Council has started a consultation process to develop its “Strategic Local Plan”, a process that is designed to inform its planning policy from 2020-2036. An important part of this plan is housing, with Government guidance targeting in the region of 15,000 new homes across the district over the period.

As a part of this process, the District Council has recently commenced a “Call for Sites”, inviting all landlords in the district to submit proposals for the release of green belt land for residential development.

Rothamsted estate Credit: Rothamsted Research Rothamsted estate, bounded in white, proposes the redevelopment of land to the west of the site, near Redbourn

The process prompted the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT) and Rothamsted Research to work together to consider the local opportunities that this development could provide.

“As one of the largest employers in the area, we are acutely aware of the shortage of affordable housing, not only for our own staff, but also for key workers locally, such as teachers and nurses,” said Peter Oxley, chief executive of LAT.

“We hope that our plan, in consultation with the local community, can go part way to addressing that need, with our intention being that any potential development would seek to include a good proportion of social and affordable housing, as well as potential for self-build homes,” noted Oxley.

He added: “The trust has historic links with the area stretching back some 175 years. We want to be part of a sustainable future that keeps the area attractive to young people seeking high quality jobs and to local people who want to strengthen their community close to home.”

LAT provides funding and support to Rothamsted Research, as well as the land and buildings where research staff work. Sir John Bennet Lawes, who began research on the site in 1843, created LAT in 1889 when he placed in trust his laboratory, his experimental fields at the Rothamsted Estate and £100,000. The LAT’s objectives have been closely aligned with those of Rothamsted Research ever since.

Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research, Achim Dobermann, sees the proposal as a potentially important step to ensure the long-term future of the institute: “Income from this development, through the LAT, would allow Rothamsted Research to do more of its strategic research on the future of farming in the UK and worldwide.”

He added: “Pressures on funding and research grants continue. We need to consider all options to safeguard the continued sustainability and success of Rothamsted Research.”

Dobermann noted: “We want to ensure that whatever we do provides benefits not only in terms of finance for ourselves, but also significant benefits for the Redbourn and St Albans communities as well, by doing this in a way that results in mutual benefits.”

The land being put forward for consideration is fields to the north east of Redbourn, between the A5183 and Harpenden Lane/Dunstable Road (the fields known as Black Horse, Bylands, Meadow, Osier and Ver).

The proposal is at a very early stage, with a submission being produced for the District Council’s Call for Sites. As the plan takes shape, LAT and Rothamsted Research will welcome wide input from the local community.

Rothamsted Flickr
Rothamsted aerial: Rothamsted estate, bounded in white, proposes the redevelopment of land to the west of the site, near Redbourn.
Lawes Agricultural Trust & Rothamsted Research contacts:
Peter Oxley, Chief Executive, Lawes Agricultural Trust
Tel: +44 (0) 1582 938 440

Susan Watts, Head of Communications
Tel: +44 (0) 1582 938 109

About the Lawes Agricultural Trust
The Lawes Agricultural Trust is an incorporated charity and company limited by guarantee. LAT traces its origin to a trust that was established in 1889 by a Declaration of Trust of Sir John Bennet Lawes FRS, who founded Rothamsted Experimental Station in 1843.

LAT’s Object is “to advance the science of agriculture for the public benefit through original investigation and research, which may embrace all or any subject(s) connected to or bearing upon agriculture, including animal or vegetable physiology, meteorology, botany and chemistry.”

LAT’s main assets are the land and buildings at Rothamsted, Harpenden, and at Brooms Barn, Suffolk. As such, the trust utilises its assets to pursue its Object as follows:
• Provision of land and buildings suitable for agricultural and related sciences conducted by Rothamsted Research;
• Provision of accommodation to key workers, students and staff – enabling them to move into Harpenden on modest scientific salaries;
• Granting financial support for scientific costs to Rothamsted Research, mainly through a “Director’s Vote” fixed annually by the trustees;
• Playing an active role in taking forward the Rothamsted campus to enable interaction with small companies, actively enhancing the uptake of agricultural and environmental research across different communities, in conjunction with RoCRE Limited. (RoCRE is Rothamsted Centre for Research & Enterprise.)

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.