There has been a lot of recent publicity regarding a proposal by Seaford Town Football Club to enclose the football pitch at The Crouch with a fence. It has become apparent that the proposal is strongly opposed by a number of local residents.
Therefore, Seaford Town Council wanted to confirm what has happened so far, and the next steps for further consideration of this proposal.
The Crouch is owned by the Town Council. The Club leases the pavilion from the Council and under the terms of the lease has primary use of the football pitch.
The Club approached the Council earlier this year asking for its consent as ‘landlord’ to erect a fence around three sides of the pitch.
Community Services Meeting May 2022
This request was initially considered by the Community Services Committee of the Town Council at their meeting on the 5th of May. The Councillors considered a comprehensive report on the Club’s proposals at this meeting in May this year. Several members of the public attended the meeting and addressed the members with their concerns about the appearance of the fence, the loss of space to exercise their dogs and the danger of providing ‘dark areas’ at the ground which would encourage anti-social behaviour.
As was covered in the reports that the meeting considered, there were a number of reasons given for erecting a fence.
- Give better protection to the pitch from items such as vandalism, general footfall and hazardous dog waste not picked up.
- Compared to other clubs of their standard in Surrey and Sussex, the club are the only one without an enclosed pitch.
- Provide a safe space for people to enjoy sport in the town whilst improving the standard of facilities available to the public.
- Control the pitch area and ensure it is safe and suitable for a club that plays to the standard of football that they do.
- Protect the inclusive teams when they train on Saturday morning.
After considering the residents’ comments and the reports presented, the Committee resolved to agree ‘in principle’ to the Club’s proposal for an 8 ft fence. This was on the understanding that the area between the edge of the pitch (where there are currently railings in place) and the fence would remain available for walking dogs on leads when the pitch was not in use but that dogs should not be allowed on the pitch at any time, in order to protect the pitch from dog fouling. It was also on the understanding that an 8 ft fence would require planning consent and so the decision was also made subject to the views of the Council’s Planning and Highways Committee on the appearance of the fence and its impact on the character of The Crouch at a later date.
Please note that the Club had also offered to provide a small, enclosed area close to the pitch as a ‘Community Dog Park’ but this was considered by the Committee to be unnecessary.
Since this meeting took place, a number of local residents have raised their concerns with the Council. The concerns have included the appearance of the fence, the restriction of the areas where dogs can be exercised and the fear that the enclosure will create dark areas which will encourage vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
We have also had concerns raised about the impact on trees in the vicinity. Having looked into this, we can see that the proposed fence terminates along the southeast corner and therefore our understanding is that it should not impact the tree lined path as is.
Another particular concern raised is that the erection of a fence would be contrary to planning policy. The reasoning behind this is that the Seaford Neighbourhood Plan, reflecting National Planning Policy, applies Green Belt restrictions to proposed development within designated local green spaces, such as The Crouch. However, as a 6 ft fence does not even require formal planning consent it is not considered that Green Belt restrictions can be applied in this case. The policy is aimed at buildings and other development which would lead to land designated for sport and recreation being applied to other uses. It does not therefore apply in this case.
Finally, we have also had some residents express a view that there should be a full community consultation on this issue. We are therefore asking the club what steps they are taking to make sure they are aware of local views ahead of any final proposals being developed.
In response to the concerns the Club has agreed to reduce the height of the proposed fence to 6 ft. The reduction in height will mean that the fence will not require planning consent so the Planning and Highways Committee will not be required to comment on the proposal.
As noted above, the reduction in the height of the proposed fence means it would no longer require Planning Permission, and therefore not need to come to the Town Council’s Planning and Highways Committee. In the light of this, and given the May decision was made ‘in principle’ and in anticipation of further discussions, this matter will now be considered by the Seaford Town Council Community Services Committee on the 15th of September at 7pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend this meeting, and there will be a point in the meeting where members of the public are allowed to speak. If you would like to attend this meeting, please can you register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. When you email, please tell us you want to attend this meeting and how many people you want to register for. Please email us by the 14th of September.
Finally, if there are any further comments or concerns not covered in this statement, please let us know what these are by emailing email@example.com.