Plans for four 18-metre tall floodlights and two 50-seat stands at an ambitious community football club in Hanham are set to be approved, despite more than 100 objections.
AEK Boco FC needs the facilities to be promoted to the next tier of the English non-league for both its men’s and women’s teams, as well as opening the door to more competitive matches for youth sides.
But 240 people wrote in support of the football club, which is managed by volunteers and has almost 500 children playing in the Hanham Minor League, Avon Youth League and Bristol Girls League, as well as three men’s teams and a ladies’ team.
South Gloucestershire Council’s development management committee is being recommended to grant permission for the proposals, which include associated electrical equipment and a 1.8m mesh fence at Greenbank playing fields.
The plans, which are opposed by Hanham Parish Council, received 125 letters of objection from residents who fear the floodlights will shine into their nearby gardens and that noise and car parking issues will increase.
They are also concerned the new fence and gates will stop the community from using the playing fields.
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FA league requirements mean that to play in the next two tiers of the English football pyramid, the Toolstation Western League, grounds must have floodlighting and covered spectator seating.
The development would allow the women’s side to progress from the South West Women’s Football League East Division and make the club eligible to enter youth teams in the Under-18s Somerset Floodlit League.
A report to committee members says that despite neighbours’ concerns, the floodlights, at the four corners of the pitch, would not cause unacceptable light pollution in their properties.
It says an analysis of attendances at matches in the Marcliff Gloucestershire County Football League — the seventh tier of the English non-league, where AEK Boco currently plays — and the Toolstation league showed it was unlikely to result in large numbers of extra people or more noise.
“One of the main concerns raised by residents is the potential increase in the levels of noise being emitted by users of the site,” the report says.
“It is noted that complaints have been made to the council’s environmental health team in relation to the levels of noise created by both players and spectators, as well as during events.
“However, no statutory nuisance has occurred to date.”
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The council papers say the floodlights would be turned on only on Saturday afternoons in the winter and during Wednesday evenings for about three-and-a-half hours.
“Given that this only represents a relatively small period of time, the overall impact in terms of increased noise pollution is not considered to be severe.
“The proposed floodlights have been designed as to create as minimal light spill as possible.
“In this respect, the council’s senior lighting engineer has confirmed that the calculated obtrusive light figures are within the threshold.
“It is noted that the proposed lighting columns would be situated in relatively close proximity to residential properties.
“That said, given their slight form, it is not considered that the structures would result in any significant overbearing or overshadowing impacts.
“The columns would only very partially restrict views.
“Given their scale and position in relation to neighbouring properties, it is not considered that the proposed stands or fencing would have any impact on the residential amenity of surrounding residents.”
The report says the two 3.4-metre high spectator stands would be located near the much larger existing sports pavilion.
It adds: “The transport officer is satisfied that the provision of floodlights, two stands and fencing would not directly lead to such an increase in visitor numbers that it would result in a highway safety hazard.”
Club chairman John Winter has told the council, from which Aek Boco leases the ground, that it is their intention to be promoted only to the next tier of the football non-league and that “any further progression would require consideration of a new site”.
The report says the access gates would be locked only during Toolstation Western League matches, which is a league requirement, and kept open at all other times to give the public access to the field.
It concludes: “The provision of enhanced facilities is considered to aid in the sustainability of the club, which given the number of players and members, is considered to represent a valuable community asset.
“The benefits of the development are considered to significantly outweigh any identified harm.”
The meeting will be held on Thursday, June 13.