Campaign victory for safer entrance to London Colney leisure complex

Cllr Sandy Walkington, Chair of Mini's & Juniors Verulamium RFC Angela Clifford and Vice President o

Cllr Sandy Walkington, Chair of Mini's & Juniors Verulamium RFC Angela Clifford and Vice President of The Irish Centre Richard Housden stand at the entrance to the sports ground off the A414 - Credit: Archant

Years of campaigning for a safer access into a leisure complex other than from a busy dual carriageway finally look set to succeed.

A planning application has been submitted by two district councillors off their own bat for a new entrance to the OVs rugby club, London Colney FC and the Irish Club at Cotlandswick which would see the access switched from the A414 North Orbital Road to Shenley Lane.

And early indications are that the county council as the highways authority could look favourably on the proposal which would make entering and exiting the Cotlandswick centre far safer.

Richard Housden, vice president of the St Albans Irish Centre, has spent years pushing for a safer entrance to the complex which can have up to 1,500 cars going in and out when all the facilities are in use, many of them parents driving their children there.

The access is opposite the Albert Bygrave Centre on the A414 and means that vehicles coming off the London Colney roundabout have to slow down almost immediately they get on to the dual carriageway to make the tight turn into the Cotlandswick facility.

Richard, who has been acting on behalf of all the clubs on the site, said that at last week’s meeting of London Colney parish council, members had described the existing entrance as, “a fatality waiting to happen”.

He explained that it was installed in the 1940s when the road was more suitable but in the 70 years since then, it had become a busy trunk road with an entrance to the facility which was both poor in design terms and safety.

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Throughout his years of campaigning for a better entrance, his proposals have been turned down because funds were not available – even though it was recently revealed that Section 106 money received by the county council in lieu of major developments had not been spent.

But he is far more hopeful of success now after being told that the leader of the county council, Robert Gordon, has passed on details to both the resources and highways portfolio holders at County Hall for consideration.

Richard was also due to have a meeting on site yesterday with James Dale, the county council’s contracts officer for St Albans.

Richard added: “The proposed new entrance will be in Shenley Lane which will make access not only safer but more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.”

District councillors Simon Calder and Mike Wakely have submitted a planning application for the new Shenley Lane entrance which, if successful, will go to the county council for a full appraisal.

Cllr Calder said this week: “Getting a new entrance for this area is overdue.

“Richard Housden has campaigned tirelessly for many years to achieve this and approached me last year for help. After walking around with him I immediately agreed to get involved as did Mike Wakely.

“There is a lot of support for this including the parish council, police and ward colleagues.

“As always, finding the funds from somewhere is the key but we are determined.”