ACV status would have given the league time to raise funds to make an offer for the pitches which were used both by the University of Chester lease holders and community teams over many years.
However, owners Bark Street Investments would have been under no obligation to sell and recently resubmitted a plan for 142 homes on the site even though the previous scheme was rejected, including at appeal when inspector Ian Jenkins cited the “unacceptable harm to playing field provision in the area”.
Cllr Jones said: “At a time when investment and services for local footballing facilities continues to decline, I was stunned by the dismissal of the call for Clifton Drive to be made an Asset of Community Value. In supporting the bid I contacted the council to express my view of these excellent football pitches having been used for over 40 years and planning permission on the site being refused.”
He added: “It is also sad that the university does not come out of this with any credit, indeed it sits passively by waiting for a big payday from a developer, thereby missing the opportunity to act as a standard bearer for the local sporting community.”
The latest planning application includes a proposal to replace the lost playing fields with new sports facilities at the university’s Kingsway campus that would be available to the community.
League secretary Paul Graham hopes to strike a deal with the university but is “disappointed” the ACV application was turned down. When the university told local teams it could no longer sub-let under the terms of its contract it had resulted in three football teams folding, although two new teams had since emerged.
And Mr Graham is grateful to Blacon High for allowing Blacon Thistle to play on their pitches while FC Blacon is using the Queen Elizabeth playing fields in Blacon.
CWaC spokesperson Rachel Ashley said the ACV application failed to meet the terms of the Localism Act 2011 which states the asset must have furthered social wellbeing or social interests of the local community in the recent past and it is realistic to think that it will do so again in the next five years.
She said: “In terms of recent use, whilst there was community use prior to October 2012, this was in breach of the 999 year lease with the University of Chester which restricts the use of the land to the university and its students only.
“On this basis, the authority felt it unrealistic to think that the playing fields would further the social well-being or social interests of the local community within the next five years.”
Gordon Reay, manager of student sports development, performance and coaching at the University of Chester, said: “The university cares greatly about the sporting community and has spent several years building strong support links with local schools, sport societies and clubs.”