College plans for new £650k sports pitch sparks row

Jessica King and Lucy Knight have been offered places at Oxford.

Students make history with offers from Oxford

Have your say

STUDENTS are set to get a £650,000 sports pitch – but not everyone is happy about it.

South Downs College has applied for permission to build the synthetic, floodlit pitch in College Road and the plans have been backed by schools, police, Hampshire County Council and the Royal Navy Football Association.

But Ann Doody, whose home in Downs Close backs on to the proposed site fears anti-social behaviour problems in the Crookhorn area will increase if the pitch is built next to her house.

The 66-year-old said: ‘Why would I want a football pitch outside my house? At the moment we are getting vandalism and young people are getting drunk over the field.

‘We even had to put chains round our bins because they were being stolen and set alight. I don’t feel we were given enough warning about these plans. This will be just yards from my house and I’m not happy.’

But John Manterfield, the college secretary, says the problems are nothing to do with students.

He said: ‘Let’s be clear about this, the anti-social behaviour takes places in the evenings and it’s nothing to do with the students.

‘This is local youths who have caused a few issues and they do gather in the evening but there’s no evidence that it’s students.

‘There will be very little nuisance from the pitch itself. The college will only be using it until about 5.15pm to 6pm and in the evenings it will be available for community use, essentially football training.

‘I would like to make the point that we’re working with local residents to improve facilities in the area and a lot of the residents that came to the open evening were very interested in the plans and some of them thought they were very positive.

‘I’m sure there are issues in terms of anti-social behaviour but it’s not from our students.’

The land is owned by Hampshire County Council and leased to Havant Borough Council.

The £650,000 cost of the pitch will be met by the college.

Councillor Gwen Blackett, who represents the area on Havant Borough Council, said: ‘I’m very much in favour of it. At the moment the college is having to bus pupils into Portsmouth to train. And we have a chap who runs a football group in Purbrook and has to bus them into Portsmouth and that’s disagreeable.

‘The college is going to share this facility with the community.

‘Downs Close has had quite a lot of problems with vandalism but I’m hoping this will solve that problem because there will be a caretaker taking control of the site when it’s developed.’

The plans can be seen in the lobby of the college and the application will go before the council’s planning committee on December 8.