ALTON Town Council's decision to release some land for the relocation of sporting facilities from the Coors sports ground has elicited a mixed response. While delight has been expressed by the sports clubs involved over what they hope to be a more secure future, concern remains amongst casual users of Anstey Park over the loss of open space at Diggers. Having consulted and deliberated, while it was impossible to satisfy everyone, councillors reached a compromise, which they believed would be in the best interests of the majority. The next stage will be the planning process which will determine whether a new pitch and stadium, with car parking and access road, can be built for Alton Town Football Club (ATFC) on the Diggers dogleg at Anstey Park. Also a clubhouse and green for Alton Social Bowls Club in Chawton Park Road. In addition, further planning gain is still to be negotiated in the form of an Artificial Turf Pitch (ATP), possibly on land at Eggars School, and enhanced facilities for Alton Tennis Club. Commenting on behalf of Alton Town FC, chairman Jim McKell was delighted with a deal which could result in new facilities at Diggers which could pave the way for a more prosperous and secure future. He told The Herald: "In tandem with so many other formal and informal clubs, societies, groups and organisations, the path has now been cleared for Alton Town FC to be given the opportunity (subject to the planning process) to continue to make an important contribution to the rich and varied life that forms our much admired, and often envied, 'community of Alton'. "I am pleased that councillors 'stayed the course' throughout the well conducted debate and arrived at the logical conclusion that enables the sporting opportunities of our town to be enhanced, at no cost, while causing the least possible disturbance to our enjoyment of public open space." Alton Social Bowling Club members were equally "delighted" with the decision. Coach Sheila Goodwin said: "We are grateful to Coors for their generosity, to Atisreal for their professionalism and to the council for allocating the land. It now means that we can look forward to expansion, to attracting new members and having the opportunity to play in major games at county and national level. It is our sincere hope that ATC's confidence in our future will be fully justified." Alton Tennis Club spokesman Gary Johnson said his members were pleased with the outcome and with ATC's apparent commitment to obtaining enhanced tennis provision. The club is hoping for two extra courts, with flood lighting, and to either share facilities with the social bowls club or to replace its existing 10x15 ft shed with a clubhouse of its own. Tennis club members are in urgent need of onsite toilet facilities, water and electricity. According to Mr Johnson, the hope is that some of the money, from the release of a covenant which currently restricts Coors from building on the front of the sports ground site adjacent to Anstey Road, will be used for tennis. But while the sports clubs believe this to be a positive move, members of the recently- formed Anstey Park Casual Users' Group are far from satisfied. At the meeting they handed over a 300 signature petition to ATC, expressing strong objection to the loss of public open space at Diggers. According to chairman Margaret Lockett, while the group is relieved that ATC is thinking of putting an ATP at Eggars School, they are not at all pleased about plans to relocate ATFC to Diggers. "It will cut Diggers in half and we will lose a lot of open space for the road," said Mrs Lockett who believes the loss cannot be justified, especially when the football club will be the only users of the road at an estimated 306 traffic movements a week. The Casual Users' Group was due to meet with members of the Manor Road Residents Group on Wednesday night to discuss whether to fight the application at the planning stage. Prior to Wednesday's debate the Alton Society had favoured an option to look at alternative sites, rather than use Diggers for football. However, according to chairman Reg Aldhous, members felt that councillors had come to the best compromise. And they were impressed by the way in which Alton Town Mayor Dave Crocker, had conducted the meeting. Alton and District Sports Council was due to meet yesterday (Thursday) to discuss the decision and felt unable to comment until that time.
Mixed response to sports land move
Thursday 7th September 2006 10:00 pm
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