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Council leaders urged to back artificial pitch plan for King's Lynn sports ground

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Funding for a new artificial pitch on a Gaywood sports ground should proceed despite concerns over public consultation, a new report says.

Last month, a West Norfolk Council panel called for residents to be given a say on proposals for the River Lane site before any formal planning application is submitted.

But officials are advising the authority's ruling cabinet to back the scheme, subject to planning approval, and commit at least £250,000 to it when they meet next week.

Lynn Ladies training session at River Lane in King's Lynn.. (52950426)
Lynn Ladies training session at River Lane in King's Lynn.. (52950426)

Their report said: "The development of a 3G pitch at River Lane playing pitches will be subject to planning permission which will include the required public consultation."

Although much of the funding for the pitch, which is expected to cost around £730,000, is likely to come from the Football Foundation, the report said £250,000 of partnership funding is needed from the council.

One option is to borrow the money, which officials say would cost around £263,000 in all but create a return to the council of £35,000 a year over a decade.

The other is to provide the funds from payments made under the borough's community infrastructure levy which is applied to planning applications.

Both options are to be presented to the cabinet meeting at Lynn Town Hall next Tuesday, November 16.

Officials maintain the artificial pitch is needed to help meet growing demand and ensure increased usage of the River Lane site.

They say the proposal is supported by the Fields In Trust group, with which the site was formally registered for protection as an open space for public recreation four years ago.

And they also claim it could help to tackle problems of anti-social behaviour at the nearby Dutton Pavilion, which the report said cost around £30,000 to fix during the last financial year.

It added: "Better utilisation by the community and greater presence of staff would help deter this behaviour and support people in taking up a more active way of life."

The plan also includes the allocation of a 3.8 hectare area of land, which was previously wasteland, for use as public open space particularly for residents of newly built homes in Greenpark Avenue.

But critics fear it will serve to exclude people from using the River Lane area, a claim denied by officers.

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