Herts Ad Comment: Roundwood Park pitch and parking for Verulamium Park

This week's Herts Ad comment...

This week's Herts Ad comment... - Credit: Archant

It is hard to feel too much sympathy for people living close to schools around this district - after all, their houses are at a premium because of the location and they are guaranteed to get their children a place in said school.

So it is hard to believe that a planning committee has turned down an application to build an artificial football pitch at Roundwood Park School in Harpenden largely on the grounds of the impact on surrounding residents.

After all, many of those same residents probably have children either at the heavily-oversubscribed Roundwood Park or who play with Harpenden Colts, the local football club with 800-plus members which would use the artificial pitch out of hours.

And one fact that emerged loud and clear when councillors discussed the scheme on Monday night was that both the school and the Colts badly need the facility.

Both suffer badly in the winter months when waterlogged grass pitches are unplayable - and there is only one answer to that and that is an artificial surface.

Yes, the land is Green Belt but sports facilities are considered to be acceptable exceptions to the rules and this is not a roofed sports centre after all. It would inevitably mean more activity around the school in the evenings and weekends but is 10pm really that late to close in the evening or 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

And while the school is situated in a residential area, the parents of Colts would be driving their children there after peak school hours when roads around all school are manic.

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It was clear that councillors would like to keep everyone happy - residents, the school and the Colts. Let’s hope all parties can reach agreement before it goes to appeal which it almost certainly will - and the council will probably lose.

Don’t you just love the advice from the council to people about where to park if they want to go to Verulamium Park and the two nearest car parks are full as they inevitably are on warm sunny days - if we ever get any.

Park in Drovers Way, Gombards or the Civic Centre is the suggestion - really. Try parking in any of those car parks with children and the assorted paraphernalia that goes with taking youngsters out and about. Rather than the few minutes the council suggests it would take to get to the park, it would be a long trek with children in tow and particularly difficult to get to the child-friendly attractions like the play area and the splash park. As for traipsing all the way back, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Fortunately the Inn on the Park is licensed because parents would need a strong drink by the time they had done that trip.

As the Herts Advertiser said in its comment last week, Verulamium Park is the jewel in the crown of St Albans and it is up to the council to source additional closer parking rather than send families to car parks which make a trip to the park a dreadful experience rather than an enjoyable one.