CAMPAIGNERS are bitterly disappointed that their eight-year battle to save the King Harry Lane playing fields from development has ended in failure.

Barry Mort, of the Verulam Residents' Association, said: "I have devoted much of my retirement to this, and we have achieved nothing.

"The area is going to be suffocated with traffic.

"Some people are talking about a judicial review, but there is no chance of that.

"We would have to show there was something wrong with the enquiry, and there clearly wasn't."

Following two successful appeals, Hallam Land Management, which bought the playing fields from St Albans School in 2001, now has permission to build a 40-bed care home, 215 houses and 61 flats or bungalows.

Mr Mort and his neighbours do not oppose development in principle, but fear the hundreds of new residents will clog up the already congested double roundabout by the King Harry pub.

Planning conditions oblige the company to provide £1.7 million to the county council for road improvements, but Mr Mort says the area's planning constrictions will make this almost impossible to spend.

He said: "This is a conservation area, and both The King Harry pub and St Stephen's Church are listed buildings, so there is very little that can be done with that money.

"Many years ago Sainsbury's offered to pay £1.3 million for traffic improvements around their store in Everard Close.

"That was never spent, and this will probably never be spent either.

"If the county council ever gets round to spending it on traffic improvements it will probably be in a completely different part of Hertfordshire."

Another condition prevents the occupation of more than 89 houses until traffic mitigation is completed, but Mr Mort fears this is meaningless as the sole judge is the county council.

He said: "They could just do what they call sustainable traffic measures.

"That could just be putting on an extra bus, which is pointless.

"There have been several changes of bus operator over the last few years because none of them can make money even though it is subsidised.

"The reason is very simple - this is a wealthy area and everybody has a car. Many of these new houses will have two cars.

"Or the council may just ask people to cycle. That is ridiculous, nobody is going to cycle from here to the station."