Council cabinet approves new 3G pitch amid open space concerns
- Credit: Alex Guest/Community Sports Foundation
King’s Lynn is set to enjoy the use of a new 3G football pitch - but some councillors expressed concern about “the privatisation of open space”.
At a Tuesday cabinet meeting of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, members voted to make a grant of £250,000 and approve the development of a new pitch - as well as a coaching academy project - at Lynnsport off River Lane.
If planning permission for the new pitch is approved, the £250,000 - constituting 18pc of the total project’s cost - will come from the Community Infrastructure Levy, a fee collected by the council from developers.
The Football Foundation has meanwhile offered to pick up the remaining 82pc of required funds for a new pitch because the site would be located in a deprived area.
Independent councillor Jo Rust said: “I’m absolutely not against further 3G pitch facilities in King’s Lynn or any one of our surrounding towns. The facility will be a great benefit to many people.
“However, what I am against is the removal of free green space, which is currently accessible to the whole community and which was so hugely beneficial during lockdown and the pandemic.”
Green councillor Michael de Whalley agreed, saying: “It is difficult to accept the argument that replacing a freely accessible, high-quality recreation space with an enclosed facility, requiring not-inconsiderable hire fees, in an area of significant deprivation, constitutes an act of levelling up.
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“We need to ask ourselves whether this council’s priority is to provide public services or make money.
“In this case, it is more than appropriate to describe this proposal as the privatisation of public space.”
But Conservative council leader Stuart Dark argued that the additional 3G pitch would help address a “dire need” for such facilities in the borough, and that the site’s existing 3G pitch sees a usage of 92pc on weekday evenings.
He added that a new pitch would help the council to support women, girls, people with disabilities and others in enjoying the game.
An e-petition to the borough council, which went live on November 12, urged councillors “not to remove a large amount of the green space from public use and cause noise and light pollution to residents and increase traffic on Beulah Street.”
The petition had been signed by three people at the time of the cabinet’s decision.