Concerns at poor parking

Dozens of letters of objection have been received by Northumberland County Council’s planning department from concerned home owners in response to the application by Blyth Town Football Club to expand their activities at the South Newsham Recreation Ground.

The proposed building work would create a covered stand for 300 supporters to watch adult, floodlit, matches in a securely-fenced-off ground.

The overriding concern expressed by residents of Sandringham Drive, Sandringham Meadows, Sandringham Park, Blagdon Drive and other nearby streets is that parking facilities at the football field are inadequate already for the number of visiting cars.

The letters tell of vehicles frequently double parked on grass verges in Sandringham Drive and on double yellow lines at a blind corner of a busy bus route.

The official off-road parking area for the club has 60 places at most and the majority of objectors’ letters point out that there is no provision in the application for extra parking to match the capacity of the proposed stand.

The club say that they have been getting bigger ever since they started with junior teams in 1995.

Blyth Town FC moved to the South Newsham site in 2007 and now have 23 teams and around 300 members.

The men’s first team is predicted to move into the Northern League second division soon and it is for them that the building work is to be provided.

“We are doing this for the kids of Blyth,” say the club. And letters of support for the application state: “Back us for the sake of the children.”

The pitches have already been re-configured and one of the smaller pitches has already been lost.

A recent letter of objection to the plans states: “We live in a nice residential area and feel that a project on the scale that has been applied for is not appropriate. The site is well used and adequate for the needs of the local community. Youngsters come from outside of the area to use this facility and we feel proud that we can host their needs.”

Residents have been accused of only objecting to the plans because of a ‘not on my doorstep’ mindset. But residents say the doorstep is actually a busy main access road, a bus route with a potentially dangerous blind bend.

For the safety of all those using Sandringham Drive, pedestrians and road users alike, they are unable to back a plan which completely changes the character of the public recreation ground from a valuable community asset into a restrictive stadium.

The attendant influx of cars could never be accommodated on site and would therefore cause traffic chaos just when residents needed to have free and safe entry to and egress from their homes.

Many residents feel that another site should be found for the first team activities where floodlights, security fencing, spectator stands and adequate parking can be provided unobtrusively.

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