Pitch perfect! Exmouth young footballers are given the green light to level their sloping ground

A football pitch for youngsters in Exmouth is to get a makeover after district planners agreed its surface could be levelled.

Young footballers in Exmouth will soon be able to play on a flat pitch after a successful bid to level their sloping ground, writes local democracy reporter Bradley Gerrard.

Exmouth Youth Football Club sought permission for work at Warren View Sports, Ground in Halsdon Avenue, to provide a flat playing surface, and to help reduce drainage issues on a section which frequently floods in winter.

The works will involve raising the ground by one metre in a west to east direction, and by 0.8 metres north to south.

Councillor Tim Dumper (Lib Dem, Exmouth Halsdon) said residents in Exmouth were generally in favour of the plans but raised concerns about how the site would be accessed during the works.

He urged East Devon’s planning committee to ensure that construction traffic used the Exeter Road entrance via Bellevue Road, and not an alternative route via Carter Avenue.

Cllr Dumper also questioned the potential impact on nearby wildlife.

“One thing that nobody has seemed to address is the ecological conditions,” he said.

“There are badgers and foxes there, and the site is quite close to the protected estuary of the River Exe, where there are lots of rare wading birds.”

Councillor Steve Gazzard (Lib Dem, Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh) echoed concerns for wildlife, and suggested a survey be carried out, while Councillor Brian Bailey (Cons, Exmouth Littleham) suggested the works could be carried out between summer and autumn to give birds a chance to breed earlier in the year.

But Wendy Ormsby, the council’s development manager, said a report noted that the football pitch itself would have low ecological value, and the surrounding hedges and trees where biodiversity would likely be richer would not be impacted by the works.

Councillor Daniel Wilson (Lab, Exmouth Halsdon) said he had visited the pitch shortly after he was elected in May. “The pictures don’t show it very well, but there is a very visible difference in the layout of the land,” he said.

“The club does tremendous work in maintaining the grass as lots of different age groups use it, but there is a sizeable change in height of the pitch from one end to the other, so it makes sense to create a level playing field for the children.”

The pitch, which is sited on a former landfill site, was taken over by Exmouth Youth Football Club in 2021.

Sport England supported the application, but some residents objected, with concerns echoing worries about the potential impact on wildlife, and with residents who live on the edge of the ground concerned about a loss of privacy if the height of the pitch is elevated.

However, Councillors approved the plan but added a condition about how construction traffic should access the site.

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