Row over football club expansion plans

RESIDENTS have launched a campaign to stop a village football team's bid for a £1million expansion that will create a new clubhouse and seven pitches in their community.

John Howard

RESIDENTS have launched a campaign to stop a village football team's bid for a £1million expansion that will create a new clubhouse and seven pitches in their community.

Stowupland Falcons Football Club, which was founded in 1974 with boys and girls youth teams and a veterans squad, hopes to embark on a major development at Rendall Lane.

The organisation, currently based behind the village hall with just a few pitches they share with others, wants to create the development on agricultural land.

The move would give the group a huge boost and would improve the sporting facilities available to youngsters and older players,

More than 100 villagers recently attended a meeting in the community about the plans and John Cummins, a retired civil servant who lives in Saxham Street, said a campaign has been established to get the club to think again.

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Residents are already erecting placards outside their homes saying no to the expansion and “Save Our Stowupland” group are planning to create a website.

Mr Cummins, 61, said: “The scale of the project has us concerned. I cannot think of a bigger sports complex in the whole of mid Suffolk.

“This is quite disproportionate for our village with our 2,000 residents. The village could not support this and it will benefit people from the whole of the region.

“There will be an increase in traffic in an area not suited for it, there will be noise and disturbance, an impact on the landscape, wildlife and flora and fauna in that area. Fundamentally this is the wrong project, in the wrong place, and is too big.”

Andy Taylor, chairman of Stowupland Falcons' youth section, said they had been speaking to a local farmer about acquiring about 16 acres and hoped to secure funding from the Football Association and other organisations.

He said: “We have promised that it will only be used by the club and not all pitches will be in use week by week. We will use two or three at a time so we can rest the others.

“The nearest pitch will be 300 metres from people's homes and we are putting up trees and bushes as landscaping so people will not look out on to a building and car park. The club needs a new home.”

The Stowupland Falcons have not yet submitted a planning application to Mid Suffolk District Council, but expect to within a couple of months.

Officials said the scheme would take an estimated three years before teams were playing on the land, and building the clubhouse could take longer.

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