Final whistle blows for footy pitch

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Football players are locked in a race against the clock as they desperately search for a pitch to play their home games in the coming season.

Managers, coaches and parents of teams playing on Thornton’s Bourne Way fields were told they would have to move off the private land last month to allow the owner to carry out investigative work on the pitches.

Hundreds of people who use Bourne Way playing fields in Thornton, from football teams to dog walkers, gathered on the fields to protest against plans to build homes on the land.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'1-8-2013

Hundreds of people who use Bourne Way playing fields in Thornton, from football teams to dog walkers, gathered on the fields to protest against plans to build homes on the land. PIC BY ROB LOCK'1-8-2013

Blackpool Ladies FC and Thornton Cleveleys FC have used the fields and are now working with Wyre Council to find a new home.

A spokesman for Thornton Cleveleys, said: “If this goes and we can’t go on other pitches the kids will be missing out on football and their development.

“If they don’t progress they’ll move elsewhere and the local kids who use it are having the facility taken away from them.”

Phil Burrows, 44, of Pheasants Wood, who takes his two children to play football there, said: “The Government goes on about an Olympic legacy but there’s a risk of this land being lost.”

Although no planning application has been submitted, community leaders are concerned the land – owned by NPL Estates – could be used to build new homes in the future.

Cleveleys Park ward councillors Penny Martin and Andrea Kay have held meetings with concerned residents.

Coun Martin said: “The community is more than bricks and mortar.I would be devastated if we lost this. Green space is the life of the community and we have got to have it.” Coun Kay added: “The field has showers there for the teams to use and there’s no way I want them to move off that land.

“I’m worried about the future of the land because we don’t want more houses.”

Wyre Council said the land is designated as recreational open space. A spokeswoman for Wyre Council said: “Bourne Way playing fields are privately owned, however there has previously been an agreement in place with the council for them to be used as community playing fields.

“The landowner has recently ended this agreement and we are currently making arrangements to accommodate all the football teams affected at other sites in time for the new season.

“This land is designated as recreational open space in Wyre’s Local Plan and any proposed development would require planning permission.

“To date we have not received a planning application for the site.”

Ian Honeybill, spokesman for NPL Estates, said: “In accordance with our continuing commitment to community involvement, should any planning applications be considered in the future we would undertake a full consultation exercise in advance to give local residents the opportunity to comment on the proposals, as has been the case with all other applications submitted by the company in the locality.”