Dismay as 'stadium' looks set to go ahead
CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to build a “mini football stadium” in Hanham have been dealt a blow after a report recommended the scheme is approved.
AEK Boco Football Club wants to install four 18.29m floodlights, two covered 50-seater spectator stands and a 1.8m fence around the perimeter of the main pitch.
The scheme has been unpopular with many people living nearby, with 125 letters of objection sent to South Gloucestershire Council outlining concerns.
They fear an increase in noise, traffic problems and anti-social behaviour and say the towering floodlights will illuminate homes nearby.
Their determination has been bolstered by a disturbance which took place on Sunday May 19 when police were called to Greenbank Road.
While unpopular with people living near the site, the scheme has many supporters with 240 people writing letters in support of the plans. They say the club keeps hundreds of youngsters off the streets and the scheme is vital if the AEK is to progress to the Toolstation Western League.
They also point out that anyone with reservations about the floodlights should visit those at Lockleaze Sports which have no light spill due to technological advances.
The club says the floodlights would only be switched on during Saturdays and Wednesday evenings so the impact would be minimal.
The application has been “called in” by Hanham councillor June Bamford due to the large number of objections.
This means a decision will be made by the council's development management committee who are due to visit the site on May 31 with a final decision being made at a meeting on June 13 at Kingswood Civic Centre.
In a 21-page report, council planning officer Patrick Jackson outlines the pros and cons of the scheme, but ultimately recommends the council gives approval.
The report refers to Hanham Parish Council's objection to the scheme, saying the height of the masts and over-spill of light will result in “detrimental impact” for local residents.
Parish councillors also say the scheme is out of character with the area, has insufficient parking at the site which will lead to an increase in on-street parking plus late night matches will lead to increased noise and general disturbance for local residents.
But Mr Jackson said: “Whilst the lit pitch would be more visible to surrounding residents and there may be a degree of secondary glow, it is not concluded that this would translate to an adverse impact on living conditions. Furthermore, the lights would only be used for a restricted period of time.
“It is acknowledged that the respective lighting columns would be visible from neighbouring gardens. That said, given their slight form, it is not considered that the structures would result in any significant overbearing or overshadowing impacts.”
On the issue of noise, Mr Jackson said: “It is noted that complaints have been made to the council’s environmental health team, in relation to the levels of noise created by both players and spectators, as well as during events. The environmental health officer has also outlined that complaints are likely to continue or increase as a result of further intensification of the site. However to date, no statutory nuisance has been substantiated.”
The report also addressed the issue of resulting traffic problems: “The transport officer is satisfied that the provision of floodlights, 2no. stands and fencing would not directly lead to such an increase in visitor numbers, that it would result in a highway safety hazard...the provision of the proposed facilities themselves would be unlikely to attract a significantly higher number of visitors.”
The report concluded that concerns could be addressed through conditions placed on the scheme.
“In terms of identified harms, officers are satisfied that these are adequately addressed by the application of appropriate planning conditions (such as restricting the timing of use of the proposed floodlights) in the event that planning permission is granted. It is not considered that the development proposal would result in a significantly greater level of noise generation. Accordingly, officers conclude that no unacceptable socio-environmental harm has been identified.”
Resident Kim Madan said objectors were planning to put up a dummy mast in time for the site visit so councillors can visualise the height of the floodlights.
“Everyone is very disappointed,” she said.
“I don't think the football club or the council appreciates the stress this has caused the residents with the continual reoccurrence of this situation.
“We are trying to focus on the fact that this is a recommendation rather than a final decision, especially as many of the concerns raised in the application were not addressed in the planning officer's report.
“The dummy floodlight gives an indication of what the visual impact these floodlights will have before the lights are even turned on.”
Tyler Close resident Steve Ashlin said: “Many residents are united in continuing our objection to this application and will react accordingly to each stage of the process.
“Whatever the outcome of this particular application it is clear that South Glos Council have a problem on their hands with the complete breakdown of relations between the football club and the vast majority of nearby neighbours. The large number of objections from people who actually live here clearly support this view.”
If the committee grants approval on June 13, the authority, which owns the land, must decide whether to give “landlord's permission” to allow the club to build the scheme.