Herts Ad Comment: Putting the boot in for Saints

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STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

Has the district council sounded the death knell for St Albans City Football Club?

Despite claiming to support the Saints’ bid for a new ground, SADC has put the boot in by failing to include the much-lauded scheme for a football stadium and community village at Chiswell Green in the latest draft of the Local Plan.

Their lacklustre response to the proposal has completely ignored the social and economic benefits of the Saints’ project, and paid lip service to the ongoing problems at Clarence Park without offering anything in the way of a solution.

It leaves the football club facing an unsustainable future, which casts doubts over whether it will be able to survive.

Planning portfolio holder Cllr Mary Maynard seems to think the club’s owners will somehow be able to magic up a new piece of land, complete a deal which will finance a £25m stadium, and then somehow get that approved by an increasingly belligerent council. This is a pipe dream with absolutely no grounding in the realities of business.

In the new plan SADC has also resorted to dumping additional houses on the borders of Hemel Hempstead - one of the main bugbears of the previous, failed plan - and relying on the hope that Herts county council will sell them the land currently earmarked for the Radlett rail freight depot, despite it moving further towards fruition this week as details on access, layout and design were approved.

This revised plan once again ignores any substantial developments around Harpenden (where the majority of Cabinet members hold wards), and instead has earmarked the lion’s share of homes adjacent to Redbourn, effectively changing the village forever.

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When speaking to the Herts Advertiser about the plan earlier this year, Cllr Maynard warned that every part of the district was going to have to absorb some of the housing demand. In truth, that does not seem to be the case.

This Local Plan offered a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the district’s future growth, and should have been an exciting and forward-thinking document. Instead we’re treated to more of the same, and the grim possibility that this plan will fail in much the same way as its predecessor.

It also hammers the first nail into the coffin of the city’s football club after 110 years, and leaves the owners with a desperate battle on their hands to avoid its final demise. So thanks SADC, you’ve excelled yourselves once again, it’s good to know our future is in safe hands.