Will change in opening hours result in green light for 3G pitch plan at Harpenden school?

Roundwood Park school

Roundwood Park school - Credit: Archant

Young football players are hoping that shorter opening hours will pave the way for a new artificial football pitch in Harpenden.

A revised application for a 3G pitch and floodlighting at Roundwood Park School in the town, which would be used outside school hours by Harpenden Colts and other youth groups, goes before St Albans councillors on Monday night. (16)

And supporters of the scheme have the heartfelt backing of former Paralympic footballer David Clarke who sits on the Colts’ committee and coaches the under-15s team.

He stressed the importance of the installation of an artificial pitch, not only for the Colts but also young people at the school.

“First and foremost it is a project that the school vitally needs. Its existing facilities are out of use for a lot of the time. They become waterlogged and unusable.”

The 800-strong Colts, which currently have over 100 girls on their books, was growing rapidly, he went on, and had to travel to other areas including St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Luton, to find suitable facilities on which to play.

He praised parents for creating an ‘unbelievable’ rota system to get their youngsters to surrounding facilities when grass pitches were unusable but the club was very conscious that they were having to keep driving them around.

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David added: “So, for me, it is an absolutely fundamental need for the youth of Harpenden, for both the school and the Colts.

The new application is a resubmission of a scheme refused on the casting vote of the chairman at a planning committee last June because of concerns about the hours of opening and the impact on the surrounding area.

The current proposal is to reduce the finish time from 10pm to 9.30pm Mondays to Fridays which was one of the main issues concerning councillors.

A petition signed by hundreds of supporters of the scheme has been drawn up and planning officers are recommending that it is approved.

But there have still been a number of objections, mainly from close neighbours of the school, concerned about increased traffic congestion and noise, light pollution from the floodlights and that shaving 30 minutes from the proposed hours of use was insufficient.