PNE bid for training ground on golf club land

Major proposals have been lodged with Preston Council for a new first team training facility at Ingol Golf Club, as well as community sports facilities and public open space.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 5:00 am
Ingol Golf club
Ingol Golf club

Up to 20ha of residential development - likely to include hundreds of homes - have also been proposed.

Bosses at Preston North End say the plans tie in with the club’s ambition to become a Premier League team, while supporters describe the proposals as “win-win”.

But community representatives in Ingol have been left furious by the suggestions, and have vowed to fight against them.

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An environmental impact assessment “scoping report” has so far been submitted to planning bosses by Preston North End - to “assist in forming their pre-application advice and application requirements”.

Preston North End’s chief executive, John Kay, said: “The plans that are being worked on for Ingol are in response to the continuing development of Preston North End Football Club with the ultimate aim of delivering Premier League Football for the city.

“In pursuing these aims we need a state of the art training facility for both the first team and the Academy and also we need to ease the financial demands on the owner as the sole contributor to the rising cost of competing in the Championship.

“It is to be hoped that everyone in Preston - politicians, residents and supporters, get behind these plans and assist us in reaching our goal which if achieved will have a massive positive impact for the city as a whole.”

A report from PWA planning said aspirations of top level football needed training facilities “of the highest standard”, to help “attract and retain the type of professional players who can perform at this level”.

It said it was anticipated that the development would include an indoor training facility, four full-size 11-a-side pitches, two 5-a-side pitches, and parking.

The first team training facility would move to a new purpose-built facility, with the academy remaining at the existing location at Springfield Sports Ground in Lea.

It said the proposals envisaged the “cessation of the golf course use”, and the transformation of “significant” parts of the private open space into public open space.

There could also be community pitches and other recreational facilities.

The report said the homes development, suggested to be between 400 and 600 properties, would act to “enable” the rest of the development.

It said the “principal aspect” of the scheme was the new training facility, and said: “This along with the delivery of significant areas of public open space and community pitches will come at a significant cost to PNE. “Therefore, residential development is proposed which will act to ‘enable’ the overall development, ensuring that a funding mechanism is in place to cover the costs of delivery of the sporting and community facilities.”

Two applications to develop the site have already been rejected by the council and by inspectors, with the most recent plans thrown out earlier this year, with concerns including harm to the area of major open space and a lack of sustainability.

Bruce Ellison, chairman of Ingol Golf Village Residents Association, said: “I’m totally disillusioned, yet again, that they are going to come back yet again with another planning application costing Preston Council more money, yet again.”

He suggested the application, which has yet to be submitted in full, was trying to “pull at the heart strings of Preston residents”, with the proposals “at the cost of Ingol Golf Course”.

He said: “If they actually put the money into the golf course that they are spending on the planning applications, we would have a world-class golf course.”

He said the land was part of an area of major open space, not earmarked for considerable housing development, and said: “It was designed to be the green open space of North West Preston, not a housing estate.

“We will be fighting this with the same strength that we fought the last two planning applications.”

But the report to Preston Council said the development would create jobs, and attract new residents to the area.

PNE Fans’ Panellist John Roper said: “From a club point of view, anything that’s going to enhance the training facilities has got to be beneficial for the club.

“I believe there is also provision for some community facilities.

“I understand permission has been turned down in the past, but this seems sort of win-win.”

He said residents’ concerns were “understandable”, but said: “I’m sure there must be some sort of compromise - this is bringing community facilities and now housing to the area.

“From a club and fans perspective, anything that gives the team or the squad better training facilities is going to be beneficial and I would back it wholeheartedly.

“And if, by doing that, it benefits North End and helps us towards academy status, that’s brilliant.