Decision of fate of popular Portsmouth sports centre postponed

The future of the Moneyfields Sports and Social Club has been deferred for a month
The future of the Moneyfields Sports and Social Club has been deferred for a month
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MEMBERS of a popular community sports club will now have to wait another month to find out if their centre can be saved by a £2.5m scheme.  

Yesterday councillors voted to defer the decision on the Moneyfields Sports and Social Club in Baffins after they were not convinced it would contribute enough to the local community.

Shareholders had hoped the proposals to sell a portion of the land for housing in order to build a state-of-the art clubhouse would be given the green light to stop the centre from closing due to its state of disrepair.

Speaking at the planning committee meeting yesterday Kat Close, the club's secretary, explained the importance of the club that hosts several football teams as well as a boxing club and various events. She said: 'During the season on a Sunday I can have up to 150 youngsters involved in the matched, most supported on the sidelines by parents, grandparents and other family members.

'I am increasingly concerned about the deteriorating conditions of the grounds and it is disheartening for the players when their matches are called off because of it. They train and prepare themselves for the matches during the week and are then left with the time on their hands and this can have a knock on effect for all the family.'

But some councillors and members of the public were concerned about the development's lack of affordable housing, and agreed that in its place a strong benefit to the community would have to be provided.

The council's housing boss, Cllr Darren Sanders, suggested opening the club's car park - which would have 85 spaces - to the public in a bid to solve parking issues nearby.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the council's leader, seconded the motion by Cllr Judith Smyth to defer the application to see if any similar conditions could be imposed. He said: 'I have not heard anyone say that this should be refused, just if there was a way to see if the benefits to the community could be improved.

'But the deferral should be for one meeting and one meeting only because they have to have a sense of time as to when things need to be done.'

However, Tory Cllr Donna Jones was among the three councillors who voted against a deferral. 'A deferral puts the council in a very vulnerable situation,' she said.

'There could be costs involved if it goes to appeal. Can we add an additional condition that empowers officers to work with the applicant to ensure there is an enhanced community benefit on top of what is there already?

'My concern is we would lose control if it goes to appeal.'

For one of the club's directors, Pete Seiden, the decision was disappointing but not the end of Moneyfields. He explained what will happen next and said: 'I have got a meeting on Tuesday with the officers to see what tweaks can be made and the decision about whether to appeal or not will be made then.

'We will be going into the meeting with the intention to do everything we can but if the tweaks are ridiculous we will have to appeal.

'The idea about the car parking we already do. If we had an issue with it we wouldn't let people do it. But obviously it could be a problem if people are taking spaces away from those who are paying to use the club, or if people park up and leave their car there all day.

'For now we'll take it as a positive that it wasn't refused outright.'

Five councillors voted in favour of the deferral. The next planning committee is scheduled for October 17.