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Blyth football ground improvements approved

Blyth Town FC's ground.
Blyth Town FC's ground.

Retrospective changes to approved upgrades at the home of Blyth Town FC have been approved by councillors.

It is the latest application in a long and tortuous planning journey with successful and unsuccessful appeals and a series of bids to vary conditions and plans.

The original bid for a 150-seater spectator stand, the reconfiguration of pitches, new floodlighting and a fence at South Newsham Recreation Ground proved very controversial when submitted in December 2013 and it was refused a year later.

But an appeal by Blyth Town FC against Northumberland County Council’s decision found in the football club’s favour in April 2015.

However, the scheme was not carried out entirely in accordance with the approved plans so a retrospective bid was submitted to try to address those issues.

This too was refused, in October 2016, due to the impact of mounds of earth on the site and the fencing on the public open space. A subsequent appeal of this refusal was unsuccessful.

Two further applications to vary the plans and make changes to the scheme were approved, but again some of the work carried out is at odds to what was previously agreed.

At this month’s meeting of the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council, members approved another retrospective bid to ‘to regularise those alterations’.

For example, the number of parking bays is 101 rather than the previous 99, while the dimensions of the fence around the pitch, admissions kiosk, lighting control box and dug-outs are slightly different as well.

The planning officer’s report said that these ‘variances are extremely minor to the point of being unnoticeable’, but that ‘given the sensitivities surrounding the operations of this club and their impacts locally, it is important to have the exact measurements recorded through this application and formally regularised’.

By Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service