Pitches plea: why this junior football club is petitioning for a prime Lancashire county council site

Club development officer Stuart Smith (left) and chairman Darryl Cartwright of Lostock Hall Juniors Football Club
Club development officer Stuart Smith (left) and chairman Darryl Cartwright of Lostock Hall Juniors Football Club
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An award winning Lancashire football club desperate for more pitches has a new goal.

Lostock Hall Juniors Football Club is petitioning the county council to let it acquire or lease land at the 55 acre Woodcock Hall farm estate at Farington, near Leyland.

But its ambitions for a new “home base” at the Stanifield Lane site, opposite Cuerden Strategic Site’s proposed new Ikea store, look likely to be given the red card.

The club has 450 players and six satellite sites round Lostock Hall, with some pitches used by four teams. Juniors’ Chairman Darryl Cartwright said the green belt site is a “derelict farm” and the perfect solution to their problem. He said: “We’ve been looking for land for the past 10 -12 years because we’ve just grown and grown. We’ve now 32 teams and we would have a lot more if we had the land.”

The club promises it would “fundraise for any maintenance work and development of the site”, which it predicts could otherwise be put to retail or commercial use.

But it looks unlikely to be game on. Gary Pearse, Head of Estates at the council, said: “Whilst we are sympathetic to the football club we have no plans to dispose of the land at Woodcock Hall Farm. Due to its location the site is considered to be of strategic importance for the county council. In the shorter term, we may need a portion of the land to offset the environmental impact of widening the A582.”

The land is classified as a green belt “area of separation” and is let on an annual mowing and grazing licence, with some buildings now used by the council. A council spokesman added: “Neither the buildings or land are derelict/vacant. The house at Woodcock Hall Farm was last occupied in 1995 when this was demolished to enable the roundabout construction of the original Lostock Lane dualling highway scheme.”

•The Club has won nine awards in the last three years and celebrates its 40th birthday next year. Club Chairman Darryl Cartwright added: “We’re not just a football club. We’re a community club.”

He praised the local (South Ribble) council for previous help in finding satellite sites.