: Hatfield’s Angerland Playing Fields To Be Re-opened.
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Eight years after the University closed the 30 acre playing fields at Angerland Common to build their enormous 760 space Park & Ride, they have finally bowed to the demand for their reinstatement. Angerland was opened in 1980 under a joint-use agreement between the Welwyn Hatfield Council and the then Polytechnic. And back then it provided a range of pitches including cricket, hockey, rugby and football. Indeed, Hatfield Town FC built a ground there and had a 35 year lease – meaning they could still be playing at Angerland today! But within four years of arriving, the old club had fallen into debt and folded.
But when the University closed Angerland in 2004, they were obliged to re-open it and promised to provide a lease on some of the remaining land for the purposes of building a Hatfield football stadium. In 2006 their Park & Ride opened and Sport Hatfield, a not-for profit community organisation, had secured planning permission to construct a football stadium with floodlights and 450 seat grandstand. But the University would not provide the promised peppercorn lease. As a consequence, in 2009, the planning permission expired. And the weeds grew ever taller on the playing fields over an eight year period despite the University having a Section 106 obligation to re-open them. Then, three years ago, the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council provided their draft Sports Facility Strategy report which listed playing fields within the Borough – but failed to mention Angerland Common which was only temporarily closed! It seemed that Angerland was about to be expunged as a playing field. But Sport Hatfield, again, took up the challenge and raised a strong petition to demonstrate the demand for use by Hatfield’s top clubs in football, cricket, rugby and local youth teams. Eventually the Council began dialogue with the University with the threat of enforcing the Section 106 obligations. There is now on-going dialogue between the parties and the clubs to agree pitch provision and, hopefully, leases which will enable the clubs to apply for grants. An announcement is expected in July.