0 Cosham football centre plans approved by committee

A new football centre in Portsmouth has moved a step closer after councillors approved plans for a pavilion and all-weather pitches.

The proposals for the "football hub" at King George V Playing Fields at Cosham are aimed at improving grassroots participation in football.

The city council said the plan was "good for sports and recreation" in the north of the city.

Critics warned the scheme could reduce public access to the playing fields.

The proposals were drawn up by the city council in conjunction with the Football Association, The Football Foundation and football clubs.

The planning application for the King George V Playing Fields included 3G pitches as well as changing facilities, offices, a cafe and an extended car park, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

In October the council said it was applying for funding to add to the £1.2m that has already been allocated to the scheme.

'More expensive'

City councillor Matt Atkins, who represents the Cosham ward, said there were concerns the development would make the playing fields less accessible.

He said: "This is effectively an application to turn the site into an FA centre of excellence.

"It will become more expensive [to use], it will become more for the exclusive use of people who take their football very seriously.

"This is potentially putting the good of youth football above the good of Cosham residents."

Fellow councillor George Madgwick, the chairman of Paulsgrove FC, said charges would be introduced for use of the all-weather pitches and that it was expected the centre would have "partner" youth clubs who would use it exclusively at certain times.

Planning committee chairman Lee Hunt said the plan represented a "massive investment" into Cosham and south Paulsgrove.

"These are the sorts of facilities young people need, there's employment opportunity, leisure opportunity and income opportunity," he said.

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