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Blackpool FC training ground plans approved

Plans by Blackpool Football Club to build an elite training ground and academy have passed their first hurdle after being approved unanimously by Wyre Council.

The application – which is also due to go before Blackpool Council in the coming weeks – had been recommended for approval after planning officers judged it would not harm the green belt between Blackpool and Poulton.

Wyre’s Planning Committee agreed to the proposals which straddle the planning jurisdictions of both Wyre and Blackpool councils, with Coun Stuart Fielding saying when other football clubs such as Manchester City had built new training facilities it had “drawn in further investment to the area.”

The scheme, for land between Steeton Road at Grange Park and Garstang Road West, sets out proposals to build facilities including 10 outdoor pitches, an indoor pitch and a two-storey training building.

There would also be a single-storey ground staff building, single-storey ancillary and storage buildings along with associated infrastructure including floodlights, on-site parking for 120 cars, footpaths, fencing and a new access off Steeton Road.

It would replace the current Squires Gate Lane training ground which the Seasiders have used for more than 50 years, with owner Simon Sadler unveiling plans for a new academy in May 2022.

Chief executive of Blackpool Football Club Julian Winter told the meeting the club’s training facilities were currently spread across six or seven sites so it was vital to create one single training ground.

He said: “I think the facilities we are planning are excellent and will be an enhancement to the area.”

While the training ground will focus on first team and academy players, Mr Winter said there would be community events and open days held “so local people can get involved without losing the opportunity to a create top class sporting environment for the football club.”

The meeting heard the facility would take between 18 months and two years to build.

Following the decision, Mr Winter said: “We are pleased with the outcome today but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

There had been 21 objections to the application, with concerns raised around the loss of open space and ecological sites including the Dinmore Swamp, which is a biological heritage site.

But planners said use of the land for outdoor sport was permitted on green belt land and the buildings will be positioned close to the Grange Park end of the site, thus maintaining most of the open aspect.

Ward councillor Roger Berry said he believed potential noise and light pollution for residents “would be kept to a minimum” and he welcomed a large tract of land to the east of the site remaining undeveloped as an ecological grassed area.

The application was granted subject to the signing of a Section 106 agreement to secure financial contributions towards public right of way improvements.

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