‘My stadium will be good for you’

Founder of the Haythornthwaite Sports Foundation David Haythornthwaite and young Fylde AFC fans Ellis Smith and Luke Young with scheme supporters

Founder of the Haythornthwaite Sports Foundation David Haythornthwaite and young Fylde AFC fans Ellis Smith and Luke Young with scheme supporters

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A BUSINESSMAN has vowed to continue his fight to build a rural sports complex he maintains will give a huge boost to a community.

David Haythornthwaite said he was “shocked and disappointed” after Fylde councillors threw out the plans – but the Lytham entrepreneur is not prepared to give up without a fight.

His charity, the Haythornthwaite Sports Foundation, wants to build a new 2,500 capacity stadium for AFC Fylde, artificial and grass football pitches to be used by Kirkham Juniors FC and an artificial hockey pitch which would be the new home of Springfields Hockey Club, on the edge of Wrea Green.

Councillors described the Greenlands Sports Village plans as being “in the wrong place” – but Mr Haythornthwaite is adamant he can take his scheme to appeal and win.

He told The Gazette: “We are shocked and disappointed (at the decision) but we will be immediately seeking an appeal.

“We believe we’ve got a very strong case for a successful appeal.”

The application was rejected by councillors concerned the community of Wrea Green would not benefit from the facilities, which would result in “urbanisation” of the countryside.

But Patrick Earnshaw, headteacher at Kirkham’s Carr Hill School, said the facility would be invaluable to the community and have a “transformative” effect on sports facilities for his pupils.

He added: “Greenlands Sports Village is potentially hugely important for the students at Carr Hill.

“Simply put, the impact would be transformative. In a single stroke, we’d be able to address a growing need to improve sports facilities.”

Mr Haythornthwaite said his appeal will succeed because of the “overwhelming community benefit” of the new complex, and at the meeting AFC Fylde bosses stressed the scheme provided them with more than just a new stadium.

Martin Booker, the club’s community and business development manager, said: “It is easy to fixate on preconceptions about a football club without perhaps giving proper consideration to what we’re talking about here – a community-based football team seeking a new home which will form part of a sports village.”

The appeal is expected to be submitted to Fylde Council imminently.

After the meeting, Development Management Committee chairman Coun Ben Aitken said: “Fylde Council is all for well-planned development, but members believed it was too big and too intrusive for the area. We greatly support sporting activities and try to encourage sports-related developments but this was simply unacceptable in a number of ways. Wrea Green is a beautiful location and we wanted to preserve the countryside between it and nearby Kirkham.”