New tennis and netball courts approved for St Albans park

Abbey View Golf & Track in St Albans

Abbey View Golf & Track in St Albans - Credit: Google Earth

Plans to replace sports facilities in a St Albans park have finally been given the green light almost two years after the courts were closed.

New tennis and netball courts will be built alongside Abbey View Golf and Track, two years after previous courts were converted into a children’s play area.

St Albans district council’s cabinet approved plans to replace the courts in December 2020, with planning permission finally granted on January 10.

The new facilities will be built between the athletic track and car park, on currently unused land in Verulamium Park.

Cllr Chris Davies who chaired the committee said the loss of the original tennis courts was a “big loss” for his constituents, adding “it’s great to see this start to come to fruition”.

The work will not affect the trees that are already in place in the park, or affect paths through the park for dog walkers.

The district council’s conservation officers noted Verulamium Park is an “extremely sensitive site” in terms of heritage assets, but said the scheme was considered acceptable as long as there is additional planting to screen the courts.

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A condition to limit use of the 8m tall floodlights up to 10pm on weekends and 8pm on weekends has also been included.

Council officers agreed that the ‘less than substantial harm’ on the conservation area was outweighed by the benefits of the scheme, including making sport more accessible for the community.

Cllr Liz Needham raised concerns about the risk of flooding in the park, but officers reassured members of the committee that “robust” conditions had been put in place to mitigate the risks.

A condition on the planning permission will also require work to remove a hedge to make space for the courts will be done out of the nesting season, or after a search has been done to ensure no harm is done to wildlife.

Officers recommended the scheme for approval, with councillors on the planning committee unanimously backing the plans at Monday’s meeting.