AEK Boco decision 'being kicked further down the road'
SOUTH Gloucestershire Council has been accused of dragging its heels after delaying a decision on whether to grant landlord's permission to AEK Boco Football Club.
The Greenbank Road club wants to build two spectator stands, put up eight 15m high floodlights and a 1.8m fence around the main pitch. Without these new facilities, the club cannot play higher league football.
The council, which owns the land, had originally intended to decide on landlord's permission for Boco to apply for planning permission following a consultation with locals last autumn.
Now the authority has decided to allow the club to proceed and will make a ruling once a planning decision is reached.
The consultation report concluded that there is a "great deal of support" for the club's contribution to the community, especially in terms of positive activities for young people.
It also acknowledged concerns from residents which include noise, anti-social behaviour, increased traffic, light pollution from floodlights and reduced public access.
Previous plans to extend facilities at the ground several years ago were withdrawn following opposition.
Resident Kim Madan said: "I am disappointed at the length of time it took them to decide not to make a decision!
"They focus very heavily on the benefit to youngsters but in my view due to the supposed restrictions they have promised on use of the floodlights, only the elite adult team will benefit. It's a huge amount of money to fund the proposed facilities and at this time when the schools are struggling for cash. Surely this money could be better used for all children as opposed to those interested in football. With the Bellway homes development there will be a whole new community to consider and along with environmental issues there are a lot of issues to be addressed. It seems as landlords South Glos are nervous of making a clear decision."
Tyler Close resident Steve Ashlin said: "The feedback I get is people here are fed up after three years of constantly being asked the same thing when they have on numerous occasions given an unequivocal rejection of the proposed plans for the Greenbank site. Many people here find this whole saga very stressful and are worried about the future."
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesman said: "We are aware AEK Boco have decided to submit a planning application to make proposed changes to Greenbank Playing Field. Should they receive planning permission, AEK Boco will still need to seek landlord’s permission to carry out development of the site.
“We feel it is important for the issues raised during the public consultation to be properly addressed alongside the findings of the associated Equalities Impact Assessment and Analysis (EqIAA) and this is why we wish to see the planning process followed prior to making a decision as landlord."
Not everyone who lives nearby is against the club's ambitions. Resident Lindsay Pascoe said: "The club have improved the field as a whole - better drainage, better changing facilities and community use of the clubhouse. My children’s pre-school used it free of charge when Christchurch Hall was out of action.
"If the club are to keep many of the young players after they finish children’s football, the club needs to provide the facilities needed to progress through the leagues. Otherwise as has happened to numerous local football and cricket clubs, the young players are lost to a higher standard, drop out of sport all together and in some cases take a wrong path in life.
"The use of the field will not be compromised by the developments as it is only on the area around the main pitch. People can still use the remainder of the field just as they can now."
"The residents of the area around Greenbank need to take a good long look in the mirror and think about the reasons they are protesting about this development of Greenbank. Would they prefer another 100 houses on the field? Where would they walk their dogs then?"