Frustration as football pitches stand empty

PUBLISHED: 10:00 04 October 2020

Saffron Walden Community FC

Saffron Walden Community FC

Saffron Walden Community FC

Youngsters are been turned away from playing football games while two pitches in Saffron Walden stand empty, but the pitches might finally be handed over for community use within the next few weeks.

Housebuilder Persimmon was granted planning permission in 2012 to build homes in Lime Avenue, off Little Walden Road, by Uttlesford District Council.

The agreement was that the developer would build and hand over two full sized football pitches, along with temporary changing facilities including toilets and showers.

The development was completed, and the pitches were built around four years ago, and seeded in 2017.

However, the changing facilities have not been built and the land ownership has not been passed to Audley End Estate who will in turn pass it to Saffron Walden Town Council.

On Tuesday, Richard Hush, the construction director at Persimmon Homes Essex, said: “Following discussions with the parties involved we expect to bring the matter to its conclusion in the next few weeks.”

Matthew Clare, secretary of Saffron Walden Community football club, said it was incredibly frustrating as over 600 youngsters aged four to 18 want to play football.

Right now, they can’t accommodate every game or player because of a lack of space. Facilities in the wider community are also limited, because of coronavirus restrictions or building works, or because they’re already in use.

He said that Persimmon mow the grass, but the car park is locked and overgrown with weeds.

“We are having to stop football matches being played. We can’t play, we have nowhere to play the game.”

Kemi Badenoch MP said she was aware of the situation and had asked all parties for more information.

“It is vital developers meet their obligations to the community as outlined in any approved planning application. Saffron Walden’s young footballers and the wider community will greatly benefit from the use of the football pitches on Lime Avenue and I hope this matter will be resolved quickly.”

Saffron Walden Town Council has had “a considerable number” of enquiries about Lime Avenue.

“Since the development is otherwise complete and Persimmon Homes has sold all the properties it built, the infrastructure has effectively been paid for, and now Persimmon Homes must deliver it.

“SWTC, UDC as the planning authority and AEE are working jointly to put pressure on Persimmon Homes to meet condition 25.”

A spokesperson for Audley End Estate said: “The Estate shares in the frustration locally that the playing fields have yet to be made available but these are matters for the owners of the land, Persimmon.

“The Estate has nevertheless been working with UDC and SWTC towards encouraging Persimmon to deliver these much needed facilities.”

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