St Albans council supports new stadium for St Albans City FC in Local Plan
St Albans City FC has received a major boost after the district’s new Local Plan supported the club’s hopes for a new stadium.
The Local Plan was passed at a full meeting of St Albans district council (SADC) last week after months of negotiation.
It includes the statement: “The council supports the principle of the development of a new stadium and training facilities for St Albans City Football Club and it is likely the community benefits arising from a thriving football club would carry considerable weight in considering any future application for a new stadium.”
The proposal for a new St Albans City Football Club stadium and 1,265 homes in Noke Lane, Colney Heath was originally ditched by council officers when they were selecting sites for development.
However councillors suggested a statement be included in the Plan supporting the building of a new stadium, if not at the Colney Heath site then elsewhere in the district.
The statement goes on to say: “[The] development may be supported within the Green Belt if very special circumstances can be clearly demonstrated.”
These special circumstances include if there is no alternate site for the proposal, if the impact on Green Belt is minimised, the scale of the development is appropriate and necessary, there is a business case supporting it and the location has good transport links.
SACFC has been reached for comment, but co-owner John McGowan has previously said time is of the essence with this policy.
Mr McGowan added: “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.”
The club has faced financial difficulties over the past few years, which led to a visit from bailiffs earlier this year.
It has also been the target of a number of break-ins at their current stadium in Clarence Park, which has encouraged the Saints management to seek a new site.