University of Hertfordshire told ‘put back football pitches’

THE University of Hertfordshire has been told it MUST reinstate football pitches at Angerland Common – the scene of the long-running Hatfield sports stadium row.

Planning officers at Welwyn Hatfield Council wrote to the university this week, saying it must submit a new planning application to reinstall pitches at the former playing fields off South Way, after the previous one expired.

The planning application relates to a Section 106 agreement attached to the university’s original proposals for a 700-car park and ride on the site, stating that in return for building the car park, the uni had to replace football pitches and changing facilities that were closed in 2004.

The park and ride was completed in 2006, but the university, which owns the land, has not undertaken to reinstate the football pitches.

A council spokeswoman said: “The university’s planning application for replacement facilities has expired. We have written to them requesting that they submit a new application for replacement pitches, in accordance with the Section 106 agreement.”

As previously reported by the Welwyn Hatfield Times, the land has been at the centre of a row between the university and fundraising body Sport Hatfield, over an aborted project to build a small football stadium at Angerland Common for youth football teams and Hatfield Town FC.

Sport Hatfield chairman Jon Brindle claims the Hatfield-based uni pledged to build the 450-seater grandstand and associated playing pitches for football, rugby and cricket, at the same time it was seeking planning permission for the park and ride.

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Responding to the news Mr Brindle said: “It’s fantastic the council has resolved to reinstate playing fields at Angerland Common. It’s the sporting community of Hatfield’s family silver.

“It is not an option for the uni – it is a legal requirement. There’s great demand for field playing sports in Hatfield.”

But a university spokeswoman said the institute would await the outcome of the borough’s forthcoming Sports Facility Strategy before it reinstated the pitches.

She said: “The University of Hertfordshire is committed to investing in sports provision for the community and is compiling a response to the council about its obligations at Angerland.

“The university will continue to address this in the context of the forthcoming study on the use of existing facilities and the need for any further sports facilities in the area.”

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