THE future of a long-standing Harrogate football club has been secured after the council granted planning permission for the redevelopment of its site.
Harrogate Railway Athletic will have a new clubhouse at its Station View home, as well as an all-weather pitch, training pitch and mini-soccer pitch for youngsters.
The club hopes the new facilities will be used more by the community during the week, including the bar and function room which will be available for hire, increasing the income and securing Railway’s future.
The scheme has been made possible by a deal which will see part of the southern end of the site developed into a £5.5m specialist dementia care home by Vida Healthcare.
The proposals were approved on Tuesday by the planning committee, but some reservations were expressed by councillors about the potential impact on surrounding houses.
Addressing the developer, Coun Margaret-Ann de Courcey-Bayley said: “I’m deeply distressed that you didn’t make any attempt to talk to people whose lives are going to be very heavily altered by all this activity at the bottom of their garden. When you go down any of those cul-de-sacs on match day, the noise is quite overwhelming.”
But James Rycroft of Vida Healthcare said the existing pitches were already used during the week, adding: “It’s five-a-side football - there isn’t a crowd screaming and shouting. It’s not comparable to what goes on on a Saturday.”
He also said the club would be more than happy to look at putting up netting or trees to reduce the amount of noise travelling into neighbouring gardens, as well as preventing footballs being kicked over.
Planners also raised concerns about the number of parking bays allocated for the care home - 19 spaces for the 66-bedroom home, which Mr Rycroft said would create 60 jobs. He said the company was keen to employ local people and, with good transport links locally, he did not anticipate any problems.
With the report from the highways department not yet completed, Coun Reg Marsh said he felt unable to pass the application but, because he knew the development was so vital to the club, he abstained from the vote rather than opposing the plans. He was joined by Coun Pat Marsh and Coun de Courcey-Bayley, while the rest of the committee voted in favour of the plans.
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