Anger at Harpenden Colts football club’s Green Belt plans

RESIDENTS in Harpenden are “absolutely livid” after discovering a major proposal to develop extensive football facilities and possibly a school on Green Belt land in front of their homes.

Local residents living along Roundwood Lane and Falconers Field have been given just 48 hours notice of a public exhibition for Harpenden Colts Football Club’s scheme to build on agricultural land at New Farm.

According to a leaflet sent at the last minute to concerned residents, the proposal is supported by Herts county council (HCC), which owns the 13.14 hectare site on Roundwood Lane and appears to be earmarking part of it for a future school.

The proposed planning application will seek permission for the use of land at New Farm as playing fields for 11 pitches, construction of a pavilion/changing rooms and a car park for 100 vehicles.

The scheme has outraged some residents with one, who did not want to be named, saying: “We are all absolutely livid.”

She said residents affected by the scheme only recently received official notification of the public exhibition at Roundwood Park School today, Thursday, following calls to HCC, which hurriedly sent out notices earlier this week.

The woman added: “Local residents are up in arms at the prospect of hundreds of cars using the already congested road, let alone the disruption and noise this facility will create in what is loved locally as an oasis of peace in the countryside.

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“Residents find it hard to believe that HCC has the cheek to call this a public exhibition but have made no effort to contact any of the residents who will be so greatly affected by this proposal.”

According to information from the Colts outlining the scheme, “the proposals allow for a reserve site for potential education use”.

The club, which has a membership of around 750 youngsters, said it had no grounds or training facilities of its own and had to hire indoor and outdoor places in and around Harpenden.

The Colts and the county council have already engaged in pre-application talks with organisations including St Albans district council, the Football Association and Sport England.

A planning prospectus has apparently already been submitted to the district council seeking views of planning officers.

The proposal is for playing fields, along with vehicular and pedestrian access, on a site comprising two fields, both currently being farmed.

A spokesman for HCC said the scheme was for land to the rear of Roundwood Park School, but there were “no specific proposals” for a new school yet.

He blamed an error from consultants for local residents not receiving much notice about the exhibition and said a second one would be organised in November.

HCC’s own forecast predicts a future shortage of secondary school places in Harpenden will reach as high as six forms of entry – the equivalent of a new school – by 2019/20.

Among the options which have been put to county councillors are expanding existing schools, building a new one, or a combination of both.

The public exhibition is being held at Roundwood Park School today from 3.30-8pm.