Residents show red card to club’s new football pitch plan over noise concerns

Long Eaton United FC
Long Eaton United FC

A new artificial grass pitch is set to be built at Long Eaton United Football Club – but residents want to show the proposal the red card.

As part of the plans, six 15-metre-high floodlights would be erected around the proposed pitch.

However, more than a dozen residents, along with a group of neighbours from The Hollows – close to the site – want to call full-time on the plans, claiming that parking and noise would become an intolerable nuisance.

They also believe that the Grange Park, which the new pitch would be built on, should be protected for the public.

The new artificial grass pitch  would be built on an existing grass pitch in the park to the south east of the current stadium.

It would be used for training sessions, youth and mini games, and affiliated FA competitions.

The club has said that the wider community would be welcomed to use the pitch, along with Grange Primary School.

A four-and-a-half metre fence would be built around the site to help stop balls from being kicked out.

Erewash Borough Council is set to rule on the plans at a meeting of its planning committee tonight, Wednesday, August 29.

In total, 15 residents have blown the whistle and lodged objections to the proposal.

One resident stated: “Long Eaton football club only lease Grange Park. It is a public space for everyone. The general public who enjoy the use of this park will lose approximately half of it if this application is approved. This is not right – a park should remain just that, not taken over by football clubs.”

Another resident said: “How will the football club cope with any additional car parking for the new pitches – as there are often cars parked on the other playing fields already, with cars destroying the grass, and, more importantly, is the safety issue for children playing. We also get cars tearing up and down Trenton Drive to either drop off people or use a car park.”

The pitch would be used between 8am and 10pm every day of the week, a proposal not welcomed by the objecting residents.

Council officers agree that the noises would lead to sleep loss.

They wrote in a report: “The noise evidence provided indicates that even with the proposed acoustic barrier, intermittent noise events (shouting, referees whistles, and ball impact on the proposed ball-stop fence) would cause sleep disturbance in those upper floor bedrooms of the five nearest two-storey dwellings with open windows.

“This means that it would be difficult to sleep in those bedrooms on hot summer nights when windows are reasonably left open for ventilation till 10pm on weekdays, and till 8pm on weekends.

“The Environmental Health Officer concludes that this could give rise to a statutory nuisance.”

Residents also lodged complaints about the impact of foul language and swearing.

Borough council officers said: “Residents and the Environmental Health Officer have additionally raised the issue of foul language associated with football.

“Though this may be capable of being a material consideration, it is not considered to be an issue that could or should be controlled by the Local Planning Authority.

“The applicant has suggested a Noise Management Plan be adopted, incorporating measures to advise footballers and supporters that foul language is not acceptable and giving neighbours an opportunity to complain to the football club.

“Whilst these may be options open to the club to instigate, they do not form enforceable matters that could be controlled by planning condition.”

It is thought that vehicle trips to the football club will rise with the added pitch.

At peak times, the club suspects that there will be 144 vehicle trips around the site (72 arriving and 72 leaving. These peak hours are during matches from 10am until 2pm on the weekend.

During the week, anticipated vehicle trips are a maximum of 90, ranging from 9am until 10pm.

The club said that “during weekend mornings, the maximum demand for vehicle parking could not be accommodated within parking areas and, as such, mitigation measures will be required”.

This would entail encouraging “green travel methods” such as walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing.

It said: “These measures, along with staggering times of mini soccer matches to be played at the football ground on Saturday mornings between the hours of 9am to 1pm will ensure that parking occupancy does not overspill onto local highways.”

A statement from Sport England showed full support for the plans, which it feels will benefit the community, despite losing a traditional grass pitch in the process.

It said: “The development of an AGP (artificial grass pitch) following The Football Association’s technical guidelines will especially enable children and young adults to play on appropriately-sized pitches with appropriately sized goals, encouraging greater touches of the ball and an increased involvement in the game to enable skill development.

“The intention is that young players will develop better technical and decision-making skills from a younger age.

“The nature and layout of the facility will fully accommodate over 18 and adult football, under 11/12s (based on a 9v9 format), under 9/10s (based on a 7v7 format) and under 7/8s (based on a 5v5 format) as well as several training areas within the pitch footprint.

“This proposal would meet with the aims of national and local policies and would provide much-needed improved sports facility at Long Eaton United Football Club.

“The Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) will support FA affiliated junior/youth football (highest level of competition), along with mid-week training and coaching activities.

“The proposed AGP would make a significant contribution towards addressing the unmet demand for modern football facilities and will allow Long Eaton United Football Club and partner organisations to focus their training in one venue and provide access during peak community use periods and gain greater control over facility availability and pricing.”