FOOTBALLERS in Ashbourne could be a step closer to moving on to a brand new, purpose-built pitch after their plans were given a seal of approval by a planning officer.
Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Bill Shaw has recommended the authority’s Southern Area Planning Committee, which was due to meet last night shortly after the News Telgraph went to press, grants approval for the plans to build a new facility for Ashbourne FC and the town.
The pitch, off Mayfield Road, has been subject to a massive fund-raising campaign after land was gifted to Ashbourne FC by Cedar House Developments which turned the former Nestle plant into Waterside Retail Park and Bernard Gadsby Close.
Planners could now vote to agree with Mr Shaw’s recommendation and allow the pitch - which will still be the subject of more fund-raising - to go ahead or they could vote against the recommendation and turn it down.
In his report Mr Shaw explained problems experienced in developing the planning application alongside the Environment Agency, which initially highlighted problems with the site and its proximity to the volatile River Henmore.
The current application has met with no objections from the agency and the Highways Authority has also given its blessing, on the condition footballs do not stray on to the nearby road and parking problems do not emerge on match days.
Under the plans submitted, the club would be allowed to bring in two temporary ‘Portakabin’ units to use as changing rooms. Conditions set out in the report stipulate that these will only be permitted for two years.
However club officials have already intimated that plans will be in place to raise funds for a more permanent structure once they have settled in.
The club has worked hard to secure the funding it has received so far, which includes a lottery grant and a pledge for further support from Cedar House Investments.
Currently Ashbourne FC’s teams play on the Recreation Ground off Cokayne Avenue but the club has been keen to develop its own facilities for many years.
In the past, teams have been turned away from leagues, despite being of a competing standard, because of their reliance on a local authority public pitch.
Officials have told the News Telegraph the new pitch and faclities will help the team progress.
The planners’ decision is due to appear on the News Telegraph website today.