Saint Albans City Football Club stadium dreams given new hope at council meeting

Saint Albans City FC supporters demonstrate outside the council offices.

Saint Albans City FC supporters demonstrate outside the council offices. - Credit: Archant

Saint Albans City Football Club’s owners have said if they do not get permission for a new stadium, they will leave.

Dozens of club supporters attended a meeting on Tuesday of St Albans council’s planning policy committee, which discussed co-chairs Lawrence Levy and John McGowan’s proposal to build a 6,000 capacity football stadium as part of a 1,265 housing development near to Bricket Wood.

They submitted their proposals as part of the council’s call for sites, a step in the development of the Draft Local Plan.

Mr McGowan said: “If the council and club can pull together and grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity, we can pull it off.

“If we cannot get this through, we need to hand the reins over. We cannot support it more than we have as we have jointly invested £1.2m.”

However in an officer’s report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting, the community village proposal was nixed as it would have decreased the gap between St Albans and Watford by too much.

At the meeting, the committee’s members and its chair, Cllr Mary Maynard, were at odds over how much support the club should be given.

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Cllr Richard Curthoys told the committee the support from the council could be more apparent, but Cllr Maynard and the council’s head of planning control Tracy Harvey said they have to follow a set process and suggested the football club’s co-chair Lawrence Levy speak to the landowners of more suitable sites.

The committee’s vice chair David Yates suggested a compromise solution, wherein the council would commit to supporting the club in planning policy.

Ms Harvey said they would finesse the language of the proposal to make it fit government planning policy and bring it back to committee.

The club’s co-chair John McGowan said: “On the one hand, we are very disappointed we are not being taken forward as part of the call for sites.

“But on the other hand, the council members suggested they change the wording of a policy which would enable us to be encouraged to look at Green Belt sites and supported by the council to redevelop a new stadium fully supported by housing.

“I would like to send a big thanks to all the councillors who attended. I understand they do not want to change the call for sites as that would delay the Local Plan and the government could step in and take it over.

“But we need this new policy to be devised urgently as time is of the essence.” The committee will next meet in June.