PLANS for a £650,000 sports pitch in Waterlooville were given the go-ahead last night.
Councillors on Havant Borough Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve the plans for a synthetic, floodlit pitch at South Downs College, off College Road.
Councillors said it was a much-needed sports facility that would cater for thousands of young people.
Some local residents objected to the plans and said it could exacerbate existing anti-social behaviour problems in surrounding residential streets.
There was also concern about noise.
A petition with 46 signatures was submitted to the council.
But Yvonne Elliott, speaking on behalf of the college at the meeting, pleaded with councillors to approve the plans.
She said: ‘It’s a government initiative to promote sport and health for our young people.
‘I think links with sport show that it reduces anti-social behaviour.’
Hayling councillor Mike Wilson said: ‘I did not realise there wasn’t a facility such as this at South Downs College.
‘It seems quite crazy that a college that’s been there as long as it has does not have this level of sports facility.’
Emsworth Cllr Brendan Gibb-Gray said the anti-social behaviour was a matter for the police to deal with.
He said: ‘It should not prevent us building this for the benefit of so many because of the misdeeds of a few.’
In response to residents’ concerns, an acoustic barrier will be installed along the south side of the pitch.
The pitch will be used for training purposes rather than competitive matches.
Anyone who hires the pitch will have to park in the college car park rather than in surrounding residential streets.
Havant Cllr David Guest encouraged the college and local residents to form a detailed management plan as has been achieved at Warblington School, where plans for two new hockey pitches were approved last year.
Hayling Cllr John Smith said: ‘Young people are spending so much time sitting in front of the computer.
‘This is a fabulous way of getting our young people on a pitch and getting some exercise.’