After three missed chances in five years, a bid to turn a ground into a football centre with eight artificial pitches and clubhouse is approved.
Camberley Town FC has finally hit the back of the net with its bid to turn Krooner Park into a football centre.
The club scored on its fourth attempt to secure permission to redevelop its home ground by creating eight artificial pitches, a clubhouse, changing rooms, spectator seating and floodlights.
The plans, submitted in partnership with Pace Soccer Centres, were backed by Surrey Heath Borough Council’s (SHBC) planning committee by 10 votes to five on Wednesday evening (May 27), after three previous applications in the last five years were off-target.
An artist’s impression of the revamped ground
However, the footballers have not yet heard the final whistle as the scheme has been referred to the Secretary of State, who has powers to make his own decision on the application.
The council’s debate on the project was witnessed by a crowd of club supporters as well as a band of objectors who, since 2010, have cried foul over plans to turn a small part of neighbouring Crabtree Park into an elevated car park for the proposed facility.
SHBC case officer Neil Praine recommended that the latest bid, which attracted 355 complaints from residents, be approved as the revised plans had ‘overcome the reasons for refusal’ of the previous application in 2014, which was found to ‘prejudice safe use of the highway’.
The revisions include a reduction of 19 parking spaces, from 101 to 82, to make the car park safer, as well as a steeper car park access ramp off Wilton Road to keep a turning circle clear.
The committee heard from objectors Ron Harding and Robert Couzens, who claimed that the design of the ramp was dangerous, that the car park would be an eyesore for park users and that traffic to and from the football centre would cause congestion in nearby roads.
Mr Couzens said Crabtree Park, which was a landfill site decades ago, had been sealed and ‘allowed to flourish into a natural green space enjoyed by local people and home to numerous species of wildlife’.
“Voting in favour of this application would lead to the permanent destruction of this well-loved and well-used local asset for the personal gain of private investors (in the football centre),” he said.
“There are many valid planning reasons to refuse this application,” Mr Harding added.
“Allowing it would set a precedent leading to the loss of other green spaces to development.”
However, Camberley Town FC youth section chairman Barrie Funnell said the club’s latest bid ‘covered all planning issues’ thrown up over the last five years and dismissed the objectors’ claims as ‘misinformation and scare-mongering’.
“Krooner Park is already over-subscribed and a fantastic facility such as this is desperately needed,” he said.
“The council cannot afford to pay for a development like this, so it has to come through private funding.
“This development will see the regeneration of Krooner Park and bring associated employment, without it costing the taxpayer a penny.”
Councillor Charlotte Morley, in whose Watchetts ward Krooner Park lies, said she was worried that the ramp was the steepest allowed and that plans for overflow parking in a nearby industrial estate hinged on the ‘goodwill’ of business owners allowing the use of their land.
“One or two variations to a development may be acceptable, but why are we allowing so many with this application?” she asked.
“Is this a high-quality, desirable development or will it cause no end of problems due to a poor design?”
St Pauls councillor Vivienne Chapman said she felt there was insufficient parking for up to 92 players plus spectators.
“I’m still very concerned about this,” cllr Chapman said.
“There is not enough parking and that, coupled with the volume of traffic, could be a real danger. I will be voting against this.”
Photos below show how it look as of today, photos taken in 2014