A well-loved reservoir could be drained after a planning application to build 150 homes was refused.

Aldenham Reservoir is currently owned by developers Liberty Aldenham and submitted an application to build 150 new homes on the green belt land adjacent to the water.

However, Hertsmere Borough Council planning committee refused the application and now the company is planning to drain the reservoir and fill the land.

Jim Strother, a member of the Aldenham Sailing Club, said: "Elstree and Borehamwood Resident's Association (EBRA) has naively thought they have saved the Reservoir but Liberty Aldenham has decided that because they did not get planning permission they want to drain the water and stuff grass into it.

"It is private land so it works a similar way to if you want to put a pond in your back garden. You could do it. There are rules they will have to follow including not putting toxic products into the land.

"They have told me they would need planning permission before filling the land. They need it to start bringing materials onto the land to fill it."

Mr Strother met the Gosrani brothers, who own the land, on Saturday and they said they are planning to start draining this week but Mr Strother persuaded them to wait until the new year as they need to tell their members of the club.

The Aldenham Sailing Club has been using the site since 1937 and if the reservoir is drained the club will have to close leaving the club having to find another nearby piece of water to use.

Mr Strother said: "They have said they will wait now until January to start draining. If they did it this week we would be gone by Christmas.

"We think they will go ahead with draining the reservoir. We will have to close down the club and members will go to other clubs near the area."

On Monday, the Aldenham Country Park Trust Ltd (ACPT) held its annual general meeting where they discussed the future of the reservoir.

Elstree and Borehamwood Town Cllr Pat Strack, who is also the ACPT company secretary, said: "There is fish in the reservoir which will need to be moved but anything that happens to the reservoir will disrupt the eco-system.

"Whilst we can understand that costs of ensuring that the dam is regularly inspected and that public liability insurance is likely to be extremely expensive, we are still hoping that the dialogue can continue.

"The ACPT trustees are all agreed that a solution must be found that would ensure that the public can continue to use the lake for sailing, fishing and for lawful recreation in the environs.

"Fencing off the lake and the possibility of applying for planning permission for landfill is unthinkable. The Trustees are dismayed and hope that a way forward can be found."

ACPT submitted an application in 2013 to have the footpath around the lake that is not already a public right of way registered as such.

They included the required evidence forms showing that the public had used the path between 1983 and 2013 i.e. 20 years. They were notified in October that the application had failed on detailed legal grounds.

An appeal has been lodged and the ACPT is looking for evidence from people that have walked around the lake footpath from 1954 or earlier until 1974. Several people came forward and filled in the forms but the ACPT is needing photographs and more evidence of use in that period.

Clare Newton, of EBRA, said: "Aldenham Reservoir is a statutory reservoir and not a lake, and as a such its management and ownership comes under strict legal obligations which owners must comply with or face prosecution.

"The Environment Agency effectively polices and enforces Reservoir management.

"We understand that Liberty Aldenham will be shortly be putting forward an appeal. 

"These threats from Liberty Aldenham will do nothing to assist their appeal case nor engender any level of public support for their continued ownership of this historic Reservoir."

Liberty Aldenham has been approached for a comment but said they will not give a statement until after the planning application has been submitted.