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Millionaire’s £18m site plans under spotlight

Residents for and against the scheme at the meeting (below) David Haythornthwaite.

Residents for and against the scheme at the meeting (below) David Haythornthwaite.

Villagers outlined their support and opposition to controversial plans for an £18m sports village in green belt land.

The meeting was called by Wesham Parish Council to hear the views of residents around the complex, which includes a 6,000 capacity stadium for non-league football club AFC Fylde, a warehouse and distribution centre and a retail store.

An outline planning application has also been submitted to Fylde Council by Mill Farm Ventures Ltd, whose board members include millionaire David Haythornthwaite, for a sports science building, a full-size sports pitch, a training ground, a hotel, a petrol station and a drive-through restaurant at the site on Mill Farm on Fleetwood Road, creating up to 200 jobs.

Opening the meeting at Wesham Community Centreon Friday night, the Mayor of Wesham, Coun David Ogden said the meeting was not to make a decision either for or against the proposals, but to collect information on how people felt about them.

Coun Alan Clayton, who presented the planning application to the meeting, said: “As a town council, we always want to hear what residents feel about applications sent in to Fylde Council.”

Members of the public, who spilled out into the foyer of the community centre on Church Road, spent an hour asking questions and making comments about the sports village scheme.

Joanne Gould, of Wesham, said: “One of my deepest concerns is traffic congestion in Wesham.

“As you approach the junction for the motorway between 4.30pm and 6pm it’s virtually impossible not to spend a great deal of time absolutely stationary.

“Putting more traffic on the road with this development is surely only going to increase congestion. This isn’t going to be solved without creating a new motorway junction or improving junction three of the M55.”

Coun Richard Nulty, who represents Greenhalgh but lives opposite Mill Farm, said if approved, the application would industrialise the stretch of land between Wesham and the M55.

He added: “The distinctive features of Kirkham and Wesham is that they are market towns in the countryside.

“This facility will effectively double the radius of Wesham and if it can happen at Mill Farm on the left hand side of the road, it can happen on the right side as well.

“We should be able to have more sports facilities for children using schools and other existing sites – it doesn’t have to be this site.

“The work AFC Fylde does is important, but it does not justify building a huge, high profile stadium in a countryside area.”

Other speakers said the development would add to the town’s flooding issues and negatively impact on its wildlife. Eric Picton, an executive board member at AFC Fylde, said: “I have lived here for 40 years, and have been involved in sport all that time.

“Kirkham and Wesham do not have the facilities to cope with demand. This shouldn’t be a decision based on traffic congestion, it should be about the future of our children and our grandchildren.”

Resident Bob Davey also has a long history of involvement in football. He said: “I am amazed at the comments tonight.

“In these towns we have just two recreational areas which have been donated by wealthy land owners over 100 years ago. Nobody from the council, the county or the government has built sports facilities for us.

“Here we have someone who is willing to spend millions of his own money for this development which will benefit the whole community for years to come.”

The application will be decided by Fylde Council’s development management committee next year. Residents have until January 10 to make representations.

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