Harpenden Colts plan is withdrawn
PUBLISHED: 06:26 11 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:17 11 April 2013
THE PLUG has been pulled on plans to turn a vast area of Green Belt land in Harpenden into football pitches after planning officers recommended they were rejected.
Harpenden Colts Football Club had proposed to develop New Farm, in Roundwood Lane, into 11 playing fields, a car park for 100 vehicles and a pavilion/changing room.
But after learning on Tuesday that planners at St Albans district council had recommended the application should be turned down, the Colts’ agent made a snap decision to withdraw it.
The news has come as music to the ears of campaigners who have been fighting against the plans on the grounds they pose a threat to the countryside and fear it would throw up parking and noise issues.
Nick Mourant, chair of New Farm Protection Group (NFPG), said: “We support Colts and a number of our members are current or past coaches and parents of players. However, this was the wrong development in the wrong place.
“A badly-handled consultation process and the failure of Colts and their advisors to address residents’ concerns before the application was submitted has unfortunately increased the cost of the process for Herts County Council and residents.”
Last month a petition organised by NFPG with more than 700 signatures was presented to the district council opposing the change of use to the 13.4 hectare site owned by Herts County Council.
Mr Mourant added: “We would like to thank everyone who has supported us and we hope this is the end of any plans to develop New Farm. We look forward to it continuing to provide an attractive venue for open countryside walks, runs, cycling and horse riding for many years to come.”
The reasons given for recommending the application for refusal were largely surrounding the design of the proposal which officers said would be “harmful” to Green Belt land.
The report also concluded it was not possible to fully assess the visual impact of the development from the submitted plans.
Harpenden Colts has hundreds of young members but currently has no home ground or training facilities of its own.
The agent working on their behalf was unable to confirm if they would submit a revised application but said it was under consideration.
Richard Lewis, senior associate at Vincent and Gorbing, said: “A number of issues have been raised by the district council last minute which we are not able to review before the committee meeting next week. We have decided to withdraw the application and review the issues and proposals and decide where to go from here.”