Sports village threat to St Albans Green Belt

ONE of the few remaining tracts of Green Belt land between St Albans and the M25 could be turned into a massive sports village if a French sports retail chain has its way.

Oxylane Group will shortly consult the public about its plans to build a sub-regional sports centre for football, rugby, cricket and other activities to serve parts of London and the South East on land close to Butterfly World in Chiswell Green.

In a statement to the Herts Advertiser on behalf of Oxylane Village Stephan Veyret confirmed that it had submitted “representations” to St Albans Council about plans for a multi-sports complex on the site off Noke Lane opposite the recently-opened Butterfly World.

He said: “Oxylane Village are still working on the scheme’s layout and other site specific development details and we will be shortly undertaking extensive public consultation with the local community and local sports groups for their input as required by the planning process.”


A planning application would be submitted to the district council in the New Year with full supporting information, he added.

Stephan is UK property director of Decathlon, a major French sporting goods chain store whose parent company is Oxylane which operates sports villages throughout France.

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Neither Decathlon nor its planning consultants CgMs would confirm the size of the plot or of its proposed sports village. But the site itself is well-known to local people with its prominent row of pylons next to the M25 junction at Bricket Wood.

If approved, the sports village would be built on former agricultural land in Chiswell Green. The huge site comprises land north of the M25 at Junction 21a and south of the motorway in Bricket Wood, and to the east of the M1 near junction 6a. In the northern part is land between Noke Lane and the M25 junction with the A405 bounding the eastern side, while the western portion is bounded by fields.

One nearby resident said several generations of his family had worked on the proposed multi-sports complex site when it supported dairy and arable farming.

Oxylane has made an initial bid to council to allow the development to go ahead on the Green Belt land, by outlining its proposal to help tackle problems of obesity and what it describes as, “deficiencies in existing sport and recreational facilities serving the local, sub regional and regional populations.”


A typical Oxylane Village comprises 20 hectares with outdoor playing fields for football, rugby, hockey, cricket pitches and for activities such as golf, cycle and bridleways, horse riding, athletics, sailing and watersports.

The proposal said: “The site, given its size and configuration, could also potentially incorporate a park-and-ride facility which could be used by both visitors to the Oxylane Village and also the visitors to St Albans town centre.”

A council spokesperson confirmed that they knew of Oxylane’s plans which had been mooted as a suggested amendment to its revised planning document, the Core Strategy, a draft of which setting out future development of the St Albans district, including Green Belt land, will go out to public consultation in November this year.

She added: “The council is still in the process of considering if the merits of the proposal are sufficient to overcome the normal Green Belt Policy objections and whether the proposal should be included in the final version of the Core Strategy.”