Pompey listen to fears over fence plans for ground

An aerial view of the Solent airfield. Picture by Shaun Roster

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OUTRAGED neighbours aired their concerns last night about plans to fence off part of a public playing field to accommodate Pompey’s new training ground.

Portsmouth Football Club is to use the field, near Roko Health Club in Copnor, as a training ground.

The controversial plans propose the building of 3m-high fences with 5m nets above them around two pitches.

A meeting at The Pompey Study Centre in Fratton last night was a chance for residents, who have been using the field for decades, to speak out.

Dave McCracken, whose house in Wesley Grove backs on to the field, says his children enjoy playing on the field.

He fears the new plans will mean they can no longer play there and that he can no longer watch over them.

He said: ‘The land will be totally gone so they won’t be able to play there at all.

‘They’ll be right down the bottom end playing on the rugby pitches where I’ll have no visual and no sight on them.

‘Today was all about Pompey and their community bit, I don’t think they’re too worried about the people that live in Wesley Grove.’

But chief executive of Pompey, Mark Catlin, spoke to attendees about how the pitch will be used for more than training and will provide a place for Pompey in the Community, the club’s charitable arm, to put on events for local children.

At the meeting he said: ‘We’re not just 11 men that run out on a Saturday at Fratton Park, there’s a lot going on underneath and this is why we need the facilities and the base.’

Norman Slingsby, who lives on Copnor Road, was not satisfied with the answers he received and says that since Pompey started training at Roko Health Club, the landscape has changed for the worse.

He said: ‘It’s where Mayfield School used to go, it’s where City of Boys used to go. It’s now an annex – a big cage.

‘They are taking amenities away from the people just for football.’

Mr Catlin previously pointed to the poor state of the field and made it clear that Pompey will be spending huge amounts of money to improve it.

The plans went before the council in February, but it was decided issues over whether the general public would still be allowed access needed clarifying.

Mr Catlin announced at the meeting that a final decision will now not be made until after the general election.