Harpenden Town football club gets a revamp

Harpenden Town Football Club. State of disrepair.

Harpenden Town Football Club. State of disrepair. - Credit: Archant

THE VANDAL-hit base of a Harpenden football club that was once described as looking “like an inner-city slum” can now undergo a complete transformation after receiving planning approval.

St Albans district council recently gave the go-ahead for the revamp of Harpenden Town Football Club’s base on Green Belt land on the edge of Rothamsted Park.

It is the culmination of many months of hard slog by committed club volunteers who were fed up with vandals wrecking facilities at Amenbury Lane.

They took action after clubhouse windows had been continuously smashed, metal grills damaged and broken bottles left strewn near a pitch.

When the Herts Advertiser visited the site a couple of years ago, eight out of 10 windows had been bricked up following ongoing smashing sprees by vandals and even the seats had been ripped from a small stand built for visitors watching the games.

At that time former town councillor Tony McFarland described the facilities as, “being like a jewel in the crown of Harpenden that is being left to rack and ruin. It’s like an inner-city slum”.

Whenever there was heavy rain, water streamed off a nearby lane sending a torrent into the low-lying clubhouse.

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Early last year the club launched a big appeal to raise funds for redevelopment of the clubhouse admitting that, after 120 years as a football club, if it failed it “could be the end of the road”.

Back then, spokesman Iain Sinnott said Harpenden Town wanted to end the “nightmare” of the wrecked pavilion and turn it into a dedicated hub.

This week a pleased Iain said that with the combination of gaining planning permission and the team, “playing really well and [being] top of the league, as a club we have a big smile on our faces”.

But he said that while the project was moving forward, there was still much to do.

Iain added: “The club now wants to find a further eight-to-10 local football enthusiasts to come down and join the club committee and help take the club forward with its plans.

“Many people all doing a little is the key to success.”

In its planning application the club explained the clubhouse was built in the 1950s, was in a dilapidated condition and fell “well short of modern standards for such facilities”.

Harpenden town council supported the application, saying it was pleased improvements would help “mitigate against anti-social behaviour”.

A planning officer’s report to the district council pointed out that the single-storey clubhouse was “run-down” with mismatched roofing.

She said the proposed redevelopment would not provide additional internal floor space.

Approval was given for a 1.8m-high fence, with a hedge planted in front, and gate, alteration of the building’s openings, installation of security shutters, construction of a patio and footpath, to provide informal outside seating and ramped access for those with disabilities, and relocation of a floodlight column.