St Albans City FC co-owner, John McGowan, 'ready to take a step forward' to build on former Radlett airfield

Borehamwood Times: John McGowan John McGowan

The co-owner of St Albans City Football Club said he would be ready to submit a planning application for a stadium and 6,000 new homes on Radlett Airfield within two weeks.

John McGowan said a major land developer, who did not want to be named, had stepped forward with up to £17million for the scheme.

Hertfordshire County Council deferred its sale of the land to Helioslough, which was hoping to build a strategic rail freight terminal on the site, last Monday.

A St Albans county councillor has warned the Saints’ scheme, along with another proposed by prospective parliamentary candidate Kerry Pollard, may "open the door" for the rail terminal.

Liberal Democrat Sandy Walkington said: "Everyone would prefer, if the site is going to be developed, for housing to be built there rather than a freight terminal.

"But the one major argument against this strategic, national piece of infrastructure is that the site is on green belt land."

Mr McGowan said the football club would be ready to put in outline planning permission within the next two weeks, for 6,000 homes and a new stadium.

He said: "We are happy to make an application to the local authority as an alternative scheme as we believe this could be the best option to knock the current developers off any thought of building a new rail site."

The club has been struggling with its aging infrastructure in Clarence Park, and earlier this week described the situation as "unviable".

Mr McGowan said: "I spent the entire day on Tuesday with a major land developer who has stated they will support me with a joint bid to match Helioslough's offer.

"We understand the offer is 10 times the county valuation of £1.7m, i.e £17m, subject to outline planning.

"I’m ready to take a step forward, I can make an application in two weeks for outline planning permission.

"I need the green light from people. I need positive people saying they can get us into meetings and help us push this through committees."

The development would fulfil a sizable chunk of St Albans District Council’s obligation to build 12,000 new homes by 2031.

Dreda Gordon, Labour councillor for The Colneys, said: "St Albans has a target of 11,000 homes to build and the council is looking at Green Belt sites. There is a huge housing shortage and we have to provide these homes.

"St Albans City Football Club is in desperate need of a new site, and they have looked long and hard throughout the district.

"This is a green belt site, which needs to be taken into consideration, but if this is a solution to that problem then I would support it."

Councillor Walkington added: "Everybody knows that at some stage housing needs to be build, young people need somewhere to live.

"The football club does need a new home, Clarence Park is very run down. It’s too small and it’s not in the right place.

"It’s in a listed park in a residential area, so it’s very difficult to see how it could be improved. I admire the ambition that the owners are bringing to the club."

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