A COMMUNITY sports club in Portsmouth could be saved from closure after council officers recommended its redevelopment is granted conditional permission.
Shareholders of the Moneyfields Sports and Social Club in Copnor were buoyed by the news that proposals to sell off part of the site for housing as well as the regeneration of the club have appeased Portsmouth City Council's planning team.
The £2.5m scheme still needs to be approved by the planning committee on September 19 but for one of the club's directors, Pete Seiden, this was a step in the right direction.
He said: 'That is unbelievable news from the council. The fact that they are actually supporting it is as good news as we could hope for. If the planning experts have recommended conditional approval then that is a big hurdle for me.
'I know it's still got to go to committee but in my opinion the councillors have got to have a good reason for being responsible for shutting Moneyfields now that the officers have said this.
'Not only this but they would be going against all the positive feedback we've had from people in the comments on Facebook and Twitter.'
A main point of contention was the building of 26 homes on the site which is registered as protected open space.
In their report officers noted: 'The starting point is the harm resulting from building on open space would be unacceptable, unless the wider public benefits from the proposal can be demonstrated to outweigh this loss of protected open space.
'The applicant has presented supporting information in their Protected Open Space Statement and Sporting Need Statement seeking to justify the harm from the loss of protected open space and for 'enabling development' by 26 new dwellings to be sold on the open market to finance the replacement sports facilities (without affordable housing provision) by the wider public benefits.
'Overall, the development for replacement community facilities and provision of 26 new homes (as 'enabling' development, without affordable housing) is considered, on balance, to be justified by the wider public benefits to outweigh the harm through a loss of existing protected open space.'
Mr Seiden, 48, added: 'I understand that we are building on protected open space but the rule is if it is for the good of the local community we can.
‘If it goes through it is estimated that work will begin in April.
'We've got all the kids to think about as well as events like weddings and birthday parties. We want to shut for the smallest amount of time possible but we also want to get it right.'
Some of the conditions recommended by officers included awarding delegated authority to the council's assistant director of city planning to allow them to make amendments to conditions and to refuse the application if the legal requirements aren't completed within three months.
Shareholders will need to supply documentation to the Local Planning Authority and complete a section 106 agreement. It was also advised that slowworms are safely removed from the site and transferred elsewhere.
The decision will be made on September 19.