This time some residents of Smallford may have missed attending a consultation meeting at the St Albans Rugby Club HQ because they did not know about ...
... proposals by Brett Aggregates to open up the ground at the ends of their gardens for yet another gravel extraction site, on land at the western end of the former aerodrome formerly belonging to de Havilland Aircraft Company and later Hawker Siddeley and British Aerospace.
Parts of the huge site have already been developed for business, residential, university and retail. But a large swathe is reserved as open space. Indeed, Ellenbrook Fields is a pleasant zone of recovering open land following the removal of the concrete air strip.
We must have sensed that below the surface there were useful minerals, which one day would be removed. After all, the district does have a track record for supplying aggregates to the world, and to the east and south of St Albans we have experienced gravel extraction at Colney Street and Harperbury Lane, London Colney, Coursers Lane, Roehyde, Colney Heath, Oak Farm, Beech Farm and other sites. So the news of proposed workings at the former Popefield Farm should not come as a surprise.
No-one would deny that aggregates are needed for the construction industry and for roads – and that there will be plenty of new homes coming to the districts between St Albans and Hatfield in the next ten years. Some residents, of course, don't want the homes or the workings, and of the extra traffic that will come in their wake – the same fears which are attached to the proposed freight depot at Hedges Farm, Park Street. The narrow and already-busy single-carriageway Hatfield Road will indeed be busier and noisier than today.
It is the prospect which is difficult to contemplate. Thirty-two years is a long while to wait until the Popefield site is restored and the community park formed for our enjoyment. Well, I will be well into my second century by then, but it will be something for a younger generation to look forward to.
But all of this depends on whether planning consent is given!