Campaign launched to fight Harpenden Colts scheme

RESIDENTS have joined forces to fight football field development plans in Harpenden by forming a new campaign group.

About 60 people from the Roundwood area of north-west Harpenden met at the Royal British Legion centre for the inauguration of the New Farm Protection Group (NFPG).

This follows initial public consultation on Harpenden Colts Football Club’s proposal to build a car park for 100 cars, 11 pitches and a pavilion at New Farm.

A spokesman for NFPG said campaigners aimed to protect the 13 hectares of farmland adjacent to Falconers Field and Roundwood Lane from “inappropriate development”.

He said that despite general acknowledgement at the meeting that the Colts performed a valuable role in encouraging youngsters to become involved in team sports, there was “universal condemnation” of the New Farm scheme.

Residents cited the “inevitable despoilment of the countryside as well as the vital issue of access to the proposed site via narrow roads”.

There was also concern about “likely car parking chaos” in roads close to New Farm.

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An Ashley Gardens resident said he was “profoundly worried” about noise from football players and exuberant supporters, especially on Sunday mornings and lighter evenings when residents were entitled to some peace and quiet.

Since the formation of NFPG over 120 people have already signed up to receive news from the group.

Colts chairman Bob Trevor said that while the club would be leaseholders of the site, New Farm owner Herts county council (HCC) has indicated it could be shared by local schools.

There may also be scope for other sports organisations to use New Farm.

Weekend use is likely to be between the hours of 10am and 2pm. Schools, should they take up the option to use the site, would have access between 9am and 3.30pm Monday to Friday during the school term.

Bob said that while the Colts could not guarantee a minimum level of noise from young children and adults, the club was not aware of excessive noise from two schools near New Farm.

He added that the club, “has not received any comments from local residents and providers at its other locations - Youth with a Mission and Redbourn recreation centre – regarding noise levels associated with games.

“At these two sites and other locations residents and passers-by have complimented HCFC on the behaviour of its players.”

Harpenden Society has offered to host and chair a meeting of interested parties on the New Farm scheme.

HCC and the Colts have both agreed to the suggestion, but the NFPG does not feel such a meeting is appropriate at this stage, as the planning application has not yet been lodged.