Green light given to Harpenden cricket club redevelopment

Harpenden Cricket Club

Harpenden Cricket Club - Credit: Archant

Praise has been heaped on‘forward-thinking’ councillors who approved a new pavilion on Harpenden’s common, despite it being recommended for refusal.

At St Albans district council’s plans north meeting on Monday, Harpenden Cricket Club won the go-ahead to replace its 45-year-old pavilion.

Members will now have to embark upon an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise about £600,000 to demolish the current premises and build a replacement.

The plan is to build a pavilion which would in effect be two storeys high. While the current pavilion’s total floor area is 261 square metres, the new one would have an area of 639 square metres.

Council officers had recommended the scheme be turned down as inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

They said that no very special circumstances existed to outweigh the harm and that its design, size and bulk would be ‘visually obtrusive’.

However the committee agreed to the proposal, with Cllr Mike Wakely later explaining to the Herts Advertiser that seeing players, clad in white, playing on the common each summer was among his and fellow local councillors’ favourite town scenes.

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He added: “At the moment the pavilion is a clapped-out old shed. We have had replacement buildings elsewhere in St Albans, including Batchwood and Cotlandswick in London Colney, so why not in Harpenden?

“The good thing is that we are providing a 21st century facility for children and residents, and that the new pavilion will be compliant with legislation for access for the disabled.”

Cllr Wakely said that while he and fellow committee members respected the officers’ fears about the impact upon the Green Belt, “we were absolutely sure it was the right decision”.

The club’s president Geoff Newman said: “What a great result for the cricket club and the people of Harpenden. Councillors gave approval to the building of a pavilion that will be worthy of a Premier League club and, as importantly, a wonderful facility for Harpenden residents and visitors.

“Our next job is to raise the money so that we can build the facility for future generations to enjoy.”

Club member Ed Washington praised councillors for their forward thinking, saying the decision “was quite the opposite of the stereotypical attitude in which councillors are portrayed.

“In an era where sports play such a pivotal role in the lives of many, it was brilliant to see councillors point out this is for today’s adult and youth members, but also future generations.”

The cricket club’s first team captain Nick Lamb said: “It’s amazing news for the club. This will provide fantastic facilities to bring through our colts, and will enable us to become one of the best club teams in the country.”