Criticism of St Albans City’s new stadium plans

St Albans City FC Owners Lawrence Levy and John McGowan in front of the main stand at Clarence Park

St Albans City FC Owners Lawrence Levy and John McGowan in front of the main stand at Clarence Park - Credit: Archant

AMBITIOUS plans to create a 5,000-seat football stadium near a secondary school in St Albans have come under fire from a district councillor who fears it could result in expansion of the city’s urban footprint.

St Albans City Football Club owners Lawrence Levy and John McGowan have revealed brief details about their hopes to relocate the Saints’ home from Clarence Park to a site off Colney Heath Lane.

They spoke of their scheme at a meeting with district councillors last Wednesday (16).

Because of restrictions on development at Clarence Park, the duo have described development of a new stadium as their “preferred route”.

While a planning application has not yet been lodged with SADC it is understood the facility would create a 5,000-seat capacity ground, with banqueting and conferencing facilities, and a full-size 3G artificial training pitch.

The proposed location is near Nicholas Breakspear School, to the north of Colney Heath Lane, adjacent to the Alban Way and south of Alban Park.

However councillor for Colney Heath Chris Brazier said he was concerned that funding for the scheme appeared to be dependent upon conferences and building new houses.

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He asked: “Where are the houses going to go? There is already pressure for housing at Welwyn Hatfield and Oaklands College.”

Cllr Brazier said he would also be concerned if the development was built close to Nicholas Breakspear, when it already had new sporting facilities as did Oaklands College on its site at Smallford.

He said Colney Heath did not have the infrastructure to cope with additional housing and a 5,000-seat stadium.

But Cllr Brazier understood the difficulties the Saints faced with their current facilities at Clarence Park, which they lease from the council and has major restrictions upon its use because of a historic trust deed.

Mr McGowan said: “Having looked at the opportunities open to us, the development of a new stadium is our preferred route.

“However it is early days and there are a number of stages to go through before we submit a full planning application. Currently we are in a preliminary consultative stage.”

He added: “This is a development which if successful will secure the long-term future of the club and provide a modern sporting facility for the community.

“My co-owner Lawrence is away in Gambia for two weeks [for charity] and on his return we will be issuing a further statement on our plans.”

But Mr McGowan said that the initial response from councillors and club fans had been “broadly positive” and concerns raised would be addressed before the scheme was submitted.