One of the largest sports clubs in Cheshire West has warned it will have to close unless revised plans for redevelopment close to the M53 gain approval.
Vauxhall Sports and Social Club on Rivacre Road, Ellesmere Port, is said to be attended by 50,000 youngsters a year. It has already been refused permission for a new club house and all weather provision along with 56 homes, all affordable, to be provided by Manchester-based Adactus Housing.
Battling to secure its future, it was dealt a blow when its ambitious plans, which involve green belt land, were rejected by Cheshire West and Chester Council .
The plans were called in to the borough’s planning committee by Willaston and Thornton ward councillor Myles Hogg (Con) who believed the development would be harmful to the green belt for which no very special circumstances had been demonstrated.
The revised plans, due to be considered next Tuesday (July 5), are said by Manchester-based agents Barton Willmore to ‘materially and significantly’ overcome councillors’ previous concerns as well as providing the council with additional information to demonstrate the acceptability of the development.
MP for Ellesmere Port & Neston Justin Madders , his predecessor Andrew Miller and Chester MP Chris Matheson are all backing the plans along with Rory Harvey, chairman and managing director of Vauxhall Motors among others.
Mr Madders points out the club is the largest provider of football pitches in the town and if these facilities are lost he has ‘no doubt the local community would suffer badly’.
Mr Matheson added: “Vauxhall Motors FC and particularly its football academy is so important, so well known and so well respected that it transcends the immediate Ellesmere Port catchment area. Numerous children of my constituents are amongst the hundreds that visit the site and take advantage of these great facilities.
Mr Miller said: “Now is the time for a radical rethink to get the club back onto a sound financial footing to continue its valuable community work.”
Vauxhall chairman and MD Mr Harvey says the company had been disappointed to hear the previous application had been turned down. The new all weather pitches and a new clubhouse were a viable plan which should ensure the real prospect of the club having a financially secure long-term future.
The club committee has launched a petition pointing out that 50,000 children play football there each year and the building of a ‘small number’ of houses on the unused land would enable the new clubhouse and two state of the art all-weather pitches as well as the refurbishment of the changing rooms.
Objectors say the club is surrounded by the green belt and almost all the area proposed for development is currently green belt green open space.
Longstanding occupier John Stokoe of Childer Thornton , who has lived in the immediate area for 50 years, raises traffic concerns as local lanes have 60mph limits and no footways together with increased pressure on the primary school which he believes is already considerably oversubscribed with applications vastly exceeding the number of places available
A statement which has been submitted in support warns that the sports club’s future is dependent on approval.
The revised application is recommended for approval to the borough's planning committee. But councillors will hear that although the benefits are exceptional, the development remains borderline.
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