Decision delayed on Northumberland football club's plans for new pitch and clubhouse

Councillors want to take a closer look before making a decision on a Northumberland football club’s plans for a new pitch and clubhouse.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 3:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 4:16 pm
The proposed site of the new pitch and clubhouse for AFC Newbiggin. Picture by Ben O’Connell
The proposed site of the new pitch and clubhouse for AFC Newbiggin. Picture by Ben O’Connell

AFC Newbiggin is seeking planning permission for a new single-storey clubhouse, 30-space car park, storage container and full-size football pitch surrounded by three-metre-high mesh fencing on a field north of Central Parkway and north-east of the Northumberland Church of England Academy’s Grace Darling Campus.

The club, which was established in 1911, is seeking a new home as its current base at the nearby Newbiggin Sports Centre is not fit for the club’s uses.

A decision was due at a meeting of the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council on Wednesday January 15, but members voted unanimously to defer the application and go on a site visit.

The planning officer had recommended approval and the scheme had attracted just two objections from residents. The only reason it had to be decided by the committee was because it is on county council-owned land.

However, Coun Grant Davey raised concerns about the public open space being fenced in, the funding of the development and what will happen to the club’s current pitch – although the latter two are not planning matters, while Coun Eileen Cartie was worried about ‘cars spilling out into surrounding streets’, as happens in Blyth.

The planning officer’s report had stated: ‘The proposal is not changing the use of the land and a football pitch would still be retained as a playing field.

‘While it is accepted that this would enclose an area of public open space, the proposed facilities still provide a public benefit by providing a formal area for the long-established football club and providing enhanced facilities in the town and within a sustainable location.

‘The site is also surrounded by open playing fields, therefore sufficient open public playing fields will be retained.

‘There has been no objections to application from Sport England or any significant concerns raised from local residents. The town council also supports the proposals.’