Benfleet FC needs floodlight and grandstand upgrade to meet FA standards

New floodlights and grandstands are set to be developed at a south Essex football club in order for it to meet FA standards.

Benfleet FC’s first team has played at Canvey Island Football Club’s home at Park Lane for the past four years.

The club now wants to upgrade its facility at Woodside Park, Benfleet, with a 2.4m high security fence with associated access gates, a 1.1m high pitch-side boundary fence, four grandstands to provide spectator seating – creating a seated capacity of 100 – and six floodlights.

These alterations are required for the club to meet the Football Association’s ground grading if the first team is to remain able to play at the step 6 level of the Non-League System.

No objection has been raised around environmental health, but control switches and time clocks will have to be installed to the floodlights to ensure they do not remain on any later than 10pm on a Wednesday night fixture.

Officers at Castle Point Borough Council, which will discuss the plans at a planning meeting on September 5, say the grandstands are “not of any particular architectural merit but are of a scale and design not dissimilar to what one would expect of this kind of seating in the proposed setting”.

While the site currently has existing over pitch lighting, the introduction of six floodlights is considered to result in a significant increase to light expelled in and around the site.

While these floodlights have the potential to affect surrounding properties it is noted that the closest residential building is some 140 metres west of the site separated by well-established trees and buildings, and therefore it is unlikely the light produced from the site would have an impact to a detrimental level.

The club, which is currently sitting in 11th place of the Division One South of the Eastern Counties League said as part of a planning statement: “Benfleet Football Club has now become a non-league football club, playing at Step 6 of the non-league pyramid, and as such an urgent upgrade to the facilities to enable Benfleet Football club to meet the Football Associations – Ground Requirements Rules.

“The following upgrades would allow Benfleet FC to comply with the therefore allowing the first team to play non-league football at the existing location at the northern end of Woodside Park, land owned by Castle Point Borough Council and recently renewed 100-year lease by Benfleet Football Club.”

An officer report said: “The proposal would provide a benefit in terms of improved sporting facilities for the football club which carries a significant amount of weight. The development has been found not to have an unacceptable impact on neighbours’ amenity or wildlife subject to appropriate conditions.

“Whilst there is some identified harm to the openness of the green belt, when viewed in the balance, it is felt that the benefits of granting planning permission in relation to health and well-being, outweigh the adverse impacts, so it is recommended that planning permission is granted.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter