A plan to deal with a soil mound at the home of Blyth Town FC has been approved in the hope it will bring an end to a long-running issue.
A scheme for the ‘modification and redistribution of an existing earth mound’ is the latest application in a long-winded planning journey at South Newsham Pavilion, which has featured successful and unsuccessful appeals and a series of bids to vary conditions and plans.
Given this, the application went to the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council on Wednesday (January 16) night for a decision, where it was recommended for approval.
Councillors were told by planners that enforcement action to deal with the mound had stalled, because it became clear it was unviable, and the local authority then tried to work with the club to bring forward this proposal.
Described by principal planning officer Judith Murphy as a ‘plan B which we find acceptable’, members approved the scheme by 10 votes to zero with one abstention.
Around 75 per cent of the mound currently on the site will be removed completely and the remainder will be redistributed and covered in grass, with a raised training area to be created.
The overall height of the pile will be reduced by 1.4m and a condition requires it to be picked for debris and stones so these are all removed as well.
Ward councillor Lesley Rickerby claimed the club ‘doesn’t appear to be capable of adhering to any rules and regulations’.
“This has always been a flat, no-mound, public open space,” she said. “In my opinion, we should not grant permission, but make progress on having the mound removed once and for all.”
The club’s chairman, Sandra Orr, admitted that the club had made mistakes in the past when it trusted someone who was thought to be an ‘honourable individual’ with experience in construction. She explained that they have since taken legal action to rid the club of this person.
“The legal battle with the original contractor has had a financial and emotional impact on the club,” she said.
“The site has been a bit of a political hot potato, but we aren’t interested in politics.
“We are volunteers doing a good job and this matter has inhibited that.”
A number of members praised the good work that Mrs Orr and the club does in the community, while expressing sympathy for the predicament in which it found itself.
However, Coun Jeff Reid said: “This isn’t about the very good work the club does. It’s about a two-metre-high mound that they put on land they didn’t have a leasehold for; they dumped it on council land.
“Any terms and conditions we have ever put on them, if they didn’t want to do it, they didn’t do it.”
But he added: “If this is going to actually get things to the point we should have got to last year, then our only option is to grant permission.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service