New Saints football stadium unveiled
PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 March 2018
A vision for a 6,000-capacity football stadium which will create a sustainable future for St Albans City FC is at the heart of a major new development which aims to create a landmark gateway to the city.
The proposed scheme was unveiled this week by Saints co-owners Lawrence Levy and John McGowan as part of their bid to propel the club into a new footballing era over the coming decade.
The stadium will incorporate four star conference and banqueting facilities for up to 1,000 seated covers, and it is hoped its location at one of the best transport hubs in the UK will attract global business to the district.
It will also include an academy offering higher education degrees in football, alongside retail, restaurant and sports bar facilities.
The stadium will form part of the 900-homes Noke Lane community village on land at Chiswell Green, close to J21A of the M25, which will also include office space for up to 650 people in a 10 acre business park, a two-form entry primary school, and a village hub incorporating a convenience store, a day nursery, a pub/restaurant, a GP surgery, an internet goods collection hub and a terrace of eight retail units.
There will also be two 3G club and community pitches with changing facilities and clubhouse as well as a public park.
The development comes in response to St Albans district council’s call for sites to be included in its new Local Plan for the growth of the district between 2020-2036, and is subject to inclusion in the plan by the authority and full planning permission.
The club is aiming to achieve promotion to the Football League within seven years, but this cannot be achieved under its current operating framework.
Its current home, Clarence Park in St Albans, has a limited capacity of just 3,721 spectators, with little opportunity to generate additional income either on matchdays or at other occasions, which means it operates at a substantial loss supported by its owners.
As part of the Noke Lane development, the club alone will employ 250 people by 2025, with positions in education, marketing/sales, finance, administration, media and hospitality as well as internal and outreach employees delivering its community programmes. It promises to bring £750K investment to the local community through its youth, disability, schools, mental health, and reparation projects.
Co-owner Lawrence Levy said: “Since John and I took over the club in 2011 and quickly realised that, although it could do so much for the local economy and the people who live within it, the current ground would always lose considerable money, we had a vision to build a modern, sustainable and successful football club that would create opportunities in sport, leisure and employment for the whole community. We stated this at a full council meeting in November of that year.
“We believe the stadium should be iconic and multi-purpose as well as environmentally friendly. This, we believe, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do this and hope the district council and wider community believe in the huge benefit it will bring and therefore support our proposal.”
The scheme is being facilitated in partnership with the landowner CWC Group, a privately owned Midlands-based developer who will be funding the stadium as part of the wider community village project, and director Robert Hepwood joined Mr Levy to present their vision to a meeting of St Albans Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
Mr Levy added: “There was an enthusiastic response from everyone in the room based on the social and economic benefit a new stadium would bring to the whole district.”