PLANS to ‘transform’ the home of Ringwood Town Football Club have been approved unanimously.

The redevelopment of Long Lane will see a brand-new sustainable club house, re-configured car park, improved floodlighting, perimeter fencing and a full size 3G artificial turf pitch constructed.

Ringwood Town Council previously recommended the application for approval ahead of New Forest District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, December 8 – at which one councillor dubbed the application as “planning at its very best”.

The main issues of the proposal stemmed from the Green Belt status of the land in question.

Salisbury Journal: Plans approved for redevelopment of Ringwood Town FC's Long Lane groundPlans approved for redevelopment of Ringwood Town FC's Long Lane ground

Case officer Richard Natt reported that new floodlighting represented a possibly “intrusive” element. He said: “Given their height, floodlighting masts are normally considered to be visually intrusive features that would be harmful to sensitive rural areas.

“However, consideration needs to be given to the fact that the site already contains floodlight masts on the existing football pitch and the proposed FTP and floodlighting masts would be sited in the central part of the field, away from the lanes and less visually prominent.”

While recognising the application represented some “inappropriate” development of the land, the committee agreed that the “special circumstances” – such as positive impact on the community and lack of major structural changes – outweighed any issues.

Mr Natt concluded: “It must be recognised that the extent of harm is caused by the floodlighting mast and it is considered that this impact is low to moderate. With this borne in mind, it is considered that very special circumstances have been demonstrated that outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and any other harm and as such there is no reason to withhold the granting of planning permission for this proposal.”

The whole site will be managed by AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trust on behalf of the town council.

Salisbury Journal: Plans approved for redevelopment of Ringwood Town FC's Long Lane groundPlans approved for redevelopment of Ringwood Town FC's Long Lane ground

Ringwood Town FC chairman Phil King said: “Having joined the club over 20 years ago when my son joined as a little seven-year-old, I’ve seen a lot of change. I’m proud to say that [this club] has served the community for over 140 years.

“This scheme will provide a future, a future that the people of Ringwood can be proud of with modern and fit for purpose facilities, a future for the 350 players we’ve got currently across 26 teams, and a future for all football loving six to 60 plus year olds.”

During the final debate on the plan, committee members from across the New Forest were unanimous in their praise for the plans.

Cllr Michael Wade said: “In our district, we have many towns with football clubs. If we want the clubs to develop and evolve, we should support them.”

Cllr Christine Hopkins said: “30 years ago I was sitting on the side watching my little one play football – I’m delighted to see this is going to happen. I don’t live in Ringwood anymore but I’m fully behind you.”

While Cllr Barry Dunnett said: “One comment, lucky Ringwood.”

It is understood construction work will begin within a few months.


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