St Albans council could pass on decision over Clarence Park

St Albans City & District Council

St Albans City & District Council - Credit: Archant

A DECISION on a controversial scheme to change the trust deed governing a St Albans park could be devolved to a new city neighbourhoods committee.

Ever since news broke that St Albans council wanted to update the trust deed for the recreation ground on the northern side of Clarence Park, residents have been on guard against the changes, fearing that they could open the doors to a multi-million scheme on their doorstep.

The northern side of the park is occupied by St Albans City Football Club as well as the city’s cricket, bowling and hockey clubs.

The proposed change would include provisional plans to include the public part of the park in the trust to make it easier to manage and consider requests by existing park users.

But residents, who have formed an action group, fear that the football club is planning a massive extension scheme and additional commercial development could be permitted in the park.

It called on the Charity Commission to intervene over the issue as all the trustees of the charitable trust are council cabinet members which could give rise to conflicts of interest.

At the annual meeting of St Albans council later this month, councillors will consider establishing a city neighbourhoods committee for the unparished wards of the city.

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And should that be the case, the council’s cabinet would look at devolving decision making for Clarence Park to the new committee.

Portfolio holder for environment, Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles, said: “This proposal is at any early stage and needs to be fully considered by cabinet.

“We need to consult with Clarence Park consultative forum and, subject to council’s approval, the incoming city neighbourhoods committee before the idea can be taken any further. I also want to listen to the views of the Protect Clarence Park group.”

Cllr Chichester-Miles added: “I am keen on the idea and have raised it with residents with positive feedback.”

He explained: “I think it will make decision making on park issues more transparent and democratic which is something members of the public are calling for.”