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Kick off signalled for £18m stadium site plan

An artist's impression of the proposed new stadium

An artist's impression of the proposed new stadium

An £18m football stadium and retail park has been given the go-ahead.

Members of Fylde Council’s development management committee passed the proposal for the new 6,000 capacity AFC Fylde ground on the outskirts of Wesham after a four hour debate yesterday.

Eight councillors voted in favour of the plan, with two against.

Speaking to The Gazette after the meeting AFC Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite told of his delight at the outcome.

He said: “I’m really happy and I suppose the thing I’m most happy about was it was 8-2 in favour.

“I thought it was going to be a lot closer than that.

“It got great support from local Independents and I was really pleased about that.”

Describing what it means to the club, who won promotion to the Conference North this season, he added: “It’s mega and suddenly propels us into a totally different league.

“We’re in a different league football-wise but now we’re going to have first class 
facilities.”

The committee, sitting at Lowther Pavilion, in Lytham, heard from 20 different speakers during the debate before the vote was taken.

Objectors put forward reasons including traffic issues, as well as the impact on the economy on Kirkham and Wesham town centres and the ecology of the countryside surrounding the development.

The bid included a pub, petrol station, drive through restaurant, retail unit, football training pitches and changing rooms.

An amendment to the original application, which saw an indoor sports centre replaced with a proposal for almost 500 car parking spaces, was also criticised.

A proposal by Coun Julie Brickles to defer the decision, pending a site visit by committee members to allow them to study the area more closely, had been voted down before the debate began.

The decision not to defer was slammed by Coun Maxine Chew, an Independent.

She told committee chairman and Tory councillor Coun Ben Aitken: “Chairman, I am extremely disappointed that you and your colleagues don’t want the plan to be deferred for a site visit because you are going to make a decision in 
ignorance.”

Coun Chew added: “I know we are a footballing nation but are we really going to sacrifice all of this countryside just for football and 400 spectators?”

AFC Fylde averaged an attendance of 314 last season in its current ground at Kellamergh Park, near Warton.

Proposing the plan be passed, Coun Tim Armit received an ovation from around 30 supporters of the club who attended the meeting.

He said: “The pubs are dying in Kirkham. This could actually help the pubs be regenerated and bring money into them.”

The club was known as Kirkham and Wesham FC until 2008 and it is estimated around half of its fanbase come from the two towns.

Seconding the proposal, Coun Richard Redcliffe added: “Here we have a particular project which really isn’t just about football, and a football club can be very much at the heart of any community.

“As a football supporter myself I always believe if you can attract a majority of people from around your stadium you are supporting the community.”

After the meeting AFC Fylde fan Rose McGardle, 71, from Princess Avenue, Wesham, said: “It’s brilliant, it means everything to have a proper ground.”

Michael Flynn, 29, from Smith Street, Kirkham, said: “I’ve heard a lot of people say they’d go if this went through.

“It’s a nightmare getting to Warton at the moment.”

 

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