Football academy dream in net as fears get boot

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A developer’s dream of providing a football academy for Holbeach can now be a reality after objections to plans were given the boot.

Residents had expressed fears that the plan for six football pitches, a pavilion and changing rooms, as well as 30 new homes at Penny Hill, would put pedestrian safety at risk due to a potentially massive increase in traffic flow.

In addition there were concerns about added noise levels, floodlights and litter – and what would happen should the management of the pitches ever disband.

However, following a lengthy debate, the majority of councillors present at the South Holland District Council planning meeting on Tuesday were happy conditions imposed on the plan would address concerns.

The project, started by developer Ashley King’s late father, John, will be called King’s Academy and sit on the former PA Moerman nursery site.

Philip Wiseman, of Cherry Tree Road, spoke out at the meeting on behalf of residents who objected to the plan.

Mr Wiseman said that congestion problems already existed at the southern end of Penny Hill Road with parents parking to collect their children from University Academy Holbeach.

He said noise levels, floodlights and problems with litter were not acceptable for residents in a rural area and there were better sites available on the west side of Holbeach on the A17/A151 link road, which offered much better approach facilities.

Ward councillor Nick Worth said the football pitches would complete the parish plan for provision of leisure facilities.

Coun Worth said: “You only have to look at how busy the pitches at local schools are at weekends – and what a messy condition they are in now – to see how much this development is needed.

“Holbeach Football Club has also been using the school pitches for its youth teams.

“However, I do have sympathy for the residents and it is a shame the plan cannot go ahead without the homes, but they are needed to fund it.

“The underpass nearby will address pedestrian safety.”

Among the 26 conditions imposed on the plan was the pitches should have no floodlighting. A clause was also included to prevent further housing on the land should the management disband, unless it is the wish of the community.

Coun Gambba-Jones said: “Facilities where multiple games can be played bring people together and I am sure it can be a success.

“The crucial thing is that it is managed and maintained well, there is a good timetable in place and the group responsible ensures it is somewhere people will want to go.

“It would be an ideal location for a festival of sport. I really do hope someone gets a grip on this. It just takes one person with enthusiasm to do it.”

Mr King said: “I am delighted we achieved planning permission for the development. The football pitches will be an asset to the community and I am looking forward to assisting in the delivery.

“My late father would be proud to be associated with the project and I hope it gives great enjoyment to all the youth using the facility.”