North Walsham set to miss out on ‘one-time opportunity’ for new sports facilities

North Walsham Football Club's ground. Picture: Jamie Minors

North Walsham Football Club's ground. Picture: Jamie Minors - Credit: Archant

Fears have been voiced that North Walsham could miss out on a 'one-time opportunity' for better sports facilities amid speculation that planners are set to recommend refusal of a new 200 home development in the town which would pave the way for a new football ground.

With current facilities struggling to meet the needs of a modern football club, North Walsham Town Football Club (NWTFC) wants to relocate to a larger site where it can focus all its activities in one place and provide greatly improved facilities.

That dream looked set to become a reality when a planning application for 200 houses on the land to the south of the club's existing ground on Greens Road included a proposal to provide 16 acres of land to the club further along Cromer Road.

But North Norfolk District Council's (NNDC) planning officers are recommending that members refuse that planning application next week.

NWTFC chairman Alex Brady, who plans to write to councillors ahead of the planning meeting on March 16 asking them to support the club, said: 'It's not just the adult teams that will benefit, as we have a thriving youth club, but we struggle to accommodate everyone on our current site.

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'The Football Association rules require a high standard of facilities and these are very difficult for us to secure within the current site, which is too small to allow for expansion. Funding is also a problem as many of the grants available require us to own our own site but the current ground is rented from the district council.

'As part of the current planning application, the landowners have offered to provide the club with a much bigger site and to give it to the club for free. This means we shall have the room to expand and, because we shall own the new site, we shall also be able to secure the grants we would need to build the club that North Walsham deserves.'

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The club issued a statement after opponents of the plans marched through the town in protest.

A spokesman for NNDC said: 'The application for 200 dwellings involves a range of planning issues that will need to be considered by the development committee and there will be an opportunity for interested parties to give their views about the application. The public are welcome to attend.'

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