Councillors vote to oppose football club’s expansion plans despite fears it would have to fold

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Downham councillors have voted to oppose their town football club’s expansion plans due to worries about overshadowing and noise.At its full meeting last week, Downham Town Council discussed a planning application to extend the main football stand and dugouts at Downham Town FC’s pitch on the Memorial Playing Field.The application has been submitted to West Norfolk Council, which is the landlord of the field, and if approved would see a new keyclamp fence erected.In a planning statement, the club has said that in order for its first team to continue playing at Step 5 in the English football pyramid, it needs to provide seating for 100 people and a covered terrace for another 100 under FA guidelines.However, its stand currently only houses 50 seats. The statement says the application is to help meet the 100-seat criteria – and if it does not, “the club may fold”. However, town councillors raised numerous concerns with the plans – including the fact that no measurements are included.They ultimately voted against supporting the plans, with their main worries including a risk of “overshadowing and a loss of outlook”, increases in noise and disturbances to nearby residents, the capacity for drainage at the field, and an adverse impact on biodiversity in the vicinity. Cllr Charlie Pyatt, Downham’s deputy mayor, said that as a stakeholder at the memorial field, he was surprised not to be consulted on the plans at an earlier stage.Cllr Jacqueline Westrop said nearly all councillors in the chamber have been approached by residents with concerns about the football club’s impact on the field. However, she did make clear that in general, the council is very supportive of the club.Cllr Westrop added: “I think there are a number of significant planning reasons why we can safely turn this request down tonight.”Three councillors supported the football club’s proposals, but a majority voted to oppose them.

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