Arsenal set for expansion go-ahead in London Colney

The Gunners' training grounds in London Colney

The Gunners' training grounds in London Colney - Credit: Archant

Arsenal’s major expansion push for its training grounds in London Colney looks likely to get the go-ahead at a council meeting, despite being in the Green Belt.

The Gunners, who train at the 57-hectare site in Bell Lane on the edge of the borough of Hertsmere have applied to demolish an equipment store and build a two-storey extension.

The football club has won support for its bid from Sport England, but Hertsmere borough council has received an objection in relation to concerns over noise, light pollution and overlooking of neighbours.

Development officers have recommended that the council’s planning committee, which meets next Thursday (12), grant Arsenal permission to expand facilities.

However they have warned that any approval would be subject to a signed Section 106 legal planning agreement, which compels developers to contribute financially for such schemes.

Should that agreement not be completed by March 3 this year, officers have recommended the council’s planning control managers be given delegated power to refuse Arsenal’s bid.

Within the Gunners’ training ground are 10 full-sized pitches, which are located in open fields bounded by hedgerows.

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Arsenal wants to demolish the existing pitch maintenance equipment store and part of the covered training pitch.

This would pave the way for construction of a two-storey extension to the latter pitch to provide player performance facilities, laundry room, kit stores, youth changing, medical and consultation facilities, and staff offices.

The demolished equipment store would be replaced.

An officer’s report on the scheme said calculations for the proposed extension, which increase the footprint by over one-third, “demonstrate that the development results in a disproportionate addition over and above the size of the original building”.

Therefore, the council has been advised to consider the scheme as having “very special circumstances” to warrant its acceptance for the Green Belt.

These include the contribution Arsenal makes to sporting activities for young people in the local community, and to meet the needs of a professional football club.

The current buildings at the centre “fail to provide sufficient facilities for strength and conditioning and analytical research which are essential for teams competing at the top level of European football,” the report added.

Sport England, in its response, said the extension would allow additional first team facilities “to be accommodated, such as space for pilates, yoga and stretching”.

The scheme also seeks to remove 140 trees to allow for the relocated equipment store, but 280 replacement trees are proposed to mitigate this loss.