Redevelopment proposal for St Albans’ Clarence Park

CHANGES which could encourage St Albans City Football Club to submit a redevelopment proposal for Clarence Park recreation ground are to be put before residents.

The proposal is to update the trust deed for the recreation ground on the northern side of the park which is occuped by the football club as well as the city’s cricket, bowling and hockey clubs.

Council contractors John O’Conner and an electric substation are also sited there.

The council’s cabinet administers the trust as a corporate trustee and must act in accordance with a trust deed created nearly 120 years ago in July 1894.

The park and recreation ground were given to the people of St Albans by Sir John Blundell-Maple, the Victorian furniture entrepreneur.

The southern part is subject to a restrictive covenant requiring the land to be used only as a public park and “pleasure ground”.

At a recent cabinet meeting councillors agreed to consult residents on widening the trust’s purposes and extending trustee powers as those set out in the historic trust deed reflect conditions of the time and not the present day.

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For example, they restrict use of the recreation ground to certain adult sports and do not address its use by children.

The aim is to include all sporting activities and use by children in the future.

There are also provisional plans to include the public park in the trust, making it easier to manage and consider requests made by existing park users.

The Saints football club’s agreement to use part of the trust’s land expires in 2014.

It has asked to extend the agreement and explore the possibility of expanding its stand onto land where the recreation ground borders the public park.

Any changes to the trust deed will need to be approved by the Charity Commission and comply with the Charities Act 2011.

The council’s portfolio holder for the environment, Councillor Daniel Chichester-Miles, said: “Including the entire park in the trust will make it easier to manage the park as a whole and protect it for future generations.

“It will also open up the possibility of new funding opportunities that as a council we are currently unable to access.”