London Colney dad’s plea to curb disruptive Sunday football games snubbed by district council

Cotlandswick Leisure Centre backs onto Richard's house.

Cotlandswick Leisure Centre backs onto Richard's house. - Credit: Archant

A frustrated father is fed up with noisy football matches just yards from his home.

Taxi driver Richard Martin and his family - including his 18-month-old son - live 60 yards from London Colney’s Cotlandswick Leisure Centre, and are woken up by football matches every morning at 9am.

There are about 10 pitches at the centre, which can also be rented out until late into the evening every day of the week.

Richard says supporters cheer, players shout and swear, and the ball ricochets from the fence, and cannot use his garden peacefully or sleep past 9am as a result.

He does not blame the footballers, but as a compromise is asking St Albans district council (SADC) to cap early morning matches on a Sunday to 10am and give the family one day’s respite, improving their quality of life.

“I am annoyed and it’s really unfair. As a human right I should have one day a week to lie in. I don’t think a 10am start is unreasonable on a Sunday morning.”

Richard recently found out that plans to build an acoustic fence, which would block any noise from the pitches, have been scrapped.

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“We can’t sit in our garden, it’s a nightmare, and I feel like all SADC do is blow smoke out of their backsides. They have stock answers to my complaints.”

In 2015 noise dampening neoprene strips were fitted to the pitch fences, which Richard says have helped the problem, but not solved it.

Deputy chief executive for commercial and development for SADC, Richard Shwe, rejected any suggestion of a compromise.

He said the opening times were decided when planning permission was granted, and SADC “do not intend to make a change at the moment”.

“We impress upon people using the outdoor pitches the need to respect our neighbours and refrain from making excessive noise or using bad language. We monitor this and have banned people who have not complied.

“We have investigated the effect of an acoustic fence and have been advised it is more suited to motorways. Its height and length would be oppressive to residents.”

He noted the centre is very popular and there are long-standing agreements which “would be a shame to break” - for example a youth league occasionally uses the pitches if their field is waterlogged.