A FOOTBALL club plans to turn a potato farm into its new home.
Academy Soccer Youth Football Club wants to turn the farm off Old London Road, Rawreth, into eight new pitches and changing rooms for its hundreds of members.
The club plays on the King George V Playing Field in Websters Way, Rayleigh, but has applied to Rochford Council to create the new pitches with changing and toilet facilities on the land north of the A129 and east of the A130, London Road.
The land is owned by SJR Farming, but they no longer need it for potato farming.
David Bird, the club’s chairman, said: “The council keeps putting the rent up every year and we don’t know if we can keep our pitches from one year to the next.
“We have more than 100 boys and girls with the club and we feel we provide a bit of a service to the kids in the area. We want our own home.”
The plan will include two full-size pitches and various smaller pitches for younger players to use, which fits in with the Football Association’s new guidelines for youth football.
Modified storage containers would be used as changing and toilet facilities, and the site would provide parking for 123 cars, with 342 overflow spaces. Shane Bird, the club’s general manager, said: “The council has made a point in its strategy plan of saying it will save football pitches from developers.
“There are already pitches in the field next door so a precedent has been set.”
Representatives from the club sent letters to local residents and the parish council before submitting their plans.
Rochford Council has received three letters of complaint from residents, all focussing on the poor access to the Old London Road site via the A129.
One resident also complained about the proximity to existing football pitches and suggested putting in restrictions on the number of days they were in use.
Planning councillors will make a decision on the application in the coming weeks.