Sheffield junior football club could lose £11,000 car park in planning row

A junior football club in Sheffield could lose its new car park, which it says cost £11,000 to build, due to a planning dispute.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 5:15 pm

Ecclesfield Red Rose JFC transformed what the club says was a strip of ‘wasteland’ to provide additional parking for up to 50 cars – in addition to the 30-space car park it says it already had – during the last couple of years.

But the club, which claims the extra parking is vital for the safety of young players who would otherwise have to cross a busy road to reach the ground on Nether Lane, failed to apply for planning permission before getting the work done.

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Ecclesfield Red Rose JFC Chairman Pete Cawthorne and other members on the car park which is threatened because they didn't get planning permission (pic: Dean Atkins)

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It has now submitted a retrospective planning application in a bid to keep the car park, but a number of neighbouring residents have voiced their opposition, claiming a valued wildlife habitat has been destroyed and their privacy has been invaded.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith has also objected, citing concerns about the loss of green belt land.

More than 900 people have signed a petition calling for the car park to remain but the club now says it may have to admit defeat as it cannot afford to get the surveys done which are required as part of the planning application.

The club’s chairman Pete Cawthorne said: “It was done in the interest of child safety because there have been a number of near misses involving young players crossing Nether Lane, which is a busy road.

Ecclesfield Red Rose JFC Chairman Pete Cauhorne on the car park which is threatened because the club didn't get planning permission (pic: Dean Atkins)

“There was a long strip of wasteland with brambles and all sorts of rubbish which we had cleared and got stone laid upon so cars could park there.

“We accept we may have been a little naive not getting planning permission before spending £11,000 but we didn’t think we were doing anything wrong. It’s extremely frustrating.

“Now the council’s telling us we have to get various surveys done as part of the planning application, which could easily cost more than £2,000, and we can’t afford to risk wasting that money.

“We’re just a little self-funded club, run entirely by volunteers, and we’ll do well to keep the club running after this.”

The club, which has more than 200 young members, with 16 junior teams and one adult side, has appealed for anyone who could help carry out the necessary surveys ahead of the October 24 deadline for free or at minimal cost to get in touch as soon as possible.

It says the required assessments are a structural report on the boundary wall, a tree survey, a contamination report and a drainage report.

In her objection letter, Ms Smith states that ‘a number of my constituents’ have expressed concern about the car park, which she considers to be ‘inappropriate development within the green belt’.

“I understand that this land has not previously been developed, and indeed that it is designated as part of the green belt,” she adds.

“The application site and nearby playing fields form an important green buffer between Chapeltown and Ecclesfield, and in doing so prevent urban sprawl as described in the National Planning Policy Framework. I am completely opposed to any erosion of this barrier.”

Along with Ms Smith, five people living on Whitley View, whose homes back onto the ground, have submitted objections.

One describes how the land in question had been a natural wildlife habitat and the rubble brought in to level out the car park raised the ground level by one-and-a-half metres.

Another accuses some drivers of using the land beside the boundary wall as a urinal, while a third tells how the ‘safety, security and privacy’ the garden wall used to provide residents has been ‘entirely compromised’.

To view the application, visit Sheffield Council’s planning portal and search for 19/02907/FUL.