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Sports officials cry foul over housing plan
6:00pm Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
A DEVELOPER has drawn up plans to build up to 130 houses on football playing fields – and create replacements sports pitches nearby.
The proposals suggest constructing a housing estate on pitches currently used by teams from Sidac Sports and Social Club, on Applecorn Close, Sutton Leach.
It would result in the loss of four junior pitches and two adult pitches on the current site.
Developer North Associates Ltd would seek to compensate for the loss by “relocating” pitches by transforming scrub land off Willow Tree Avenue, which is currently used by dog walkers.
In a planning application submitted to St Helens Council, it states that the new fields – said to be 300 metres from the current ones as the crow flies - would be an “improvement and cover four hectares of land” – as opposed to three on the current site.
A 46-space car park would be located next to the pitches.
However, the council’s head of sports development Dave Boocock and Sport England have both raised concerns about the proposals.
In documents submitted as part of the consultations surrounding the scheme, he cites that the proposed new adult pitches are shorter than the current ones by 25 metres and would not meet league standards.
He also states the majority of the pitches are laid out on an incorrect orientation and will therefore be affected by the sun. Mr Boocock adds that the “arguably most critical issue is that the provision does not include changing (rooms) or even toilet”.
Currently players use facilities at the Sidac Sports and Social Club, which has four changing rooms and shower facilities.
Under the proposals, players would be expected to use those same facilities and walk 500 metres to the new fields or change at pitch-side.
Mr Booock added: “I do not believe it is unreasonable to also expect that the changing facilities that support these facilities be also replaced.
“In developing car parking on the new site, is this not recognition that there is no viable link between the current provision and the new pitches?”
Sport England has stated it would object to the current proposals on planning grounds.