Opponents opposed to new Harpenden leisure facilities raise issues of congestion and parking

PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 January 2017

Harpenden Public Halls

Harpenden Public Halls


Residents blighted by current traffic congestion and parking problems in their roads are putting pressure on St Albans council to explain how they will deal with the issue if a new scheme for the centre of Harpenden goes ahead.

St Albans council is proposing a new arts and leisure centre in Rothamsted Park with an ‘enabling’ development on the site of Harpenden Public Halls. It will also look at the possibility of putting an extra deck on the Amenbury Lane car park.

But the residents of Amenbury Lane and surrounding roads including Leyton Green, Leyton Road and Avenue St Nicholas, who have seen their area become increasingly clogged with traffic, are furious at the prospect of more congestion and parking problems in the area.

They believe the whole situation in Harpenden with regard to traffic must be looked at with a view to ensuring that the proposals have the town’s best interests at heart.

One objector, who did not wish to be named, said that in principle the revamped art and sports facilities would be welcome but they seemed to come at a high price.

He maintained that it was not just the residents who were affected by the traffic and parking situation in Harpenden but also people using the swimming pool, Rothamsted Park, the tennis club and those who tried to park in the Amenbury Lane car park to walk into the town centre.

He pointed out that it was already difficult enough to get around Harpenden and added: “What is this going to do to the traffic when the smallest thing happens and it snarls up?”

He warned that the new sports and arts centre would inevitably generate extra traffic but that would be exacerbated if there were specific events held at one or the other - or both.

In addition council taxpayers would miss out if new facilities were built but were underused because it was so difficult to access them and get away again.

The objector said that there were measures that could be taken to improve the situation such as moving the position of the swimming pool plant room and installing a new feeder road.

But the view among residents was that their comments were not being listened to. A recent consultation meeting had been attended largely by interested parties and a substantial contingent from the local arts scene who would benefit from the proposals without necessarily having any other links with the town.

The district council maintains that the feedback on the new scheme so far has been positive with respondents acknowledging that it would be in the best interests of the town.

A spokesman said this week that a traffic impact assessment would be carried out in late April or early May following the completion of a green travel plan that had been commissioned by the council.

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Recently we, as a family (minus two of the kids), visited The Lodge RSPB reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire. I had never been before, which is perhaps amiss of me as a birdwatcher as it is the headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or RSPB and only 45 minutes drive from home.

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