Ashtead Football Club (AFC) artificial pitch proposal

Ashtead Football Club has proposed redeveloping a large portion of the recreation ground into an artificial pitch with 6m fence surrounding.

The plans to build an artificial sports pitch is presently still under consideration by MVDC.

Recreation Ground Footpath Consultation

August 19th 2023
Responses required by Monday 4thSeptember
Surrey County Council, on behalf of Mole Valley District Council, is processing an application from The Trustees of Ashtead Football Club concerning the land adjoining Barnett Wood Lane, Ashtead, to divert Public Footpath No. 42 as shown on the accompanying plan 3/1/51/H124. The current legal route is shown A - B and the proposed route A-C-D-B.Mole Valley Borough Council (the landowners) and The Trustees of Ashtead Football Club would like to divert the current route of the right of way as it crosses existing sports pitches and following the grant of planning permission (MO/2020/2167/PLA) to install a new pitch, fencing and floodlighting. As part of the application the applicants have agreed to provide a path with a minimum width of 2 metres on the proposed route A-C-D-B.

If you have any comments or objections to the proposal, please send them by Monday 4th September 2023 to:
Andrew Whiddett
Countryside Access Team
Surrey County Council
Whitebeam Lodge
Merrow Depot
Merrow Lane
Guildford
GU4 7BQ
Telephone 020 8541 7081
E-mail andrew.whiddett@surreycc.gov.uk

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Click here to download the consultation document

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Click here to download the Surrey Council advisory notice

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Click here to download the Diversion Plan map

July 2nd, 2023
Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) are presently leading a public consultation into the proposed plans by Ashtead Football Club to build a 9 aside plastic football sports pitch in the QEII Recreation Ground and thereby turning a free to use public space into a ‘pay to use’ enterprise.

The consultation runs until 23rd July ‘23, then a report will be compiled and submitted to MVDC Cabinet for a decision to be made.

Flooding is said to be the main driver for the development, there has been limited action taken to examine why the flooding prevails, and there has been no meaningful discussion about an alternative environmentally friendly drainage programme which could – now is your chance to ask for that option!

Have your say: On-line via Smart Survey, by email to MVDC, or by post: SLT, Ashtead FC Proposal, MVDC, Pippbrook, Dorking RH4 1SJ

Other common concerns
- MVDC state Ashtead is the largest population in Mole Valley, but only 10% of recreational space for its population. This project would reduce that space to 9%. (Source - MVDC Open Space Report 2021).

- Turning a ‘free to use’ local facility into a ‘pay to use’ commercial entity.

- A 4.5m to 5m steel fence will surround the plastic pitch, with floodlights and have the effect of dramatically changing the look and feel of this cherished public space.
   
- On-going health and environmental concerns through the use of carcinogenic materials, and the risk of pollution to local waterways.
   
- A ban on plastic pitches was set out by the EU Parliament in Sept. 2022, causing the UK Gov. through DEFRA to commence an independent review into those concerns, their report is due in early 2025. (Source – EU Parliament and DEFRA UK.)
   
- Recognition of health and environmental concerns by the Football Association and many other leading national sports organisations and that there are no alternative safe and as durable materials to replace the currently used granulated rubber, in effect there are no 4G materials as claimed by some. (Source – Joint statement published April 2023).
   
- The redirecting of an established ‘right of way’.
   
- In June 2019 MVDC declared Mole Valley to be a ‘climatic crisis’ area and undertook to embark on a drive to reduce plastics and pollution – how does that claim fit with this project. (Source Cllr Cooksey MVDC Website).
   
- In an MVDC independent report by consultants, published Feb ’22 called - ‘Playing Pitch Assessment report for MVDC’ the authors state that the introduction of a plastic a pitch in Ashtead would not increase the number of teams, conversely a pitch elsewhere in Mole Valley might.
   
- A report by the Football Foundation states that nationally there is a need for more natural grass pitches – not the removal of them.
   
- The AFC business model appears now to be focused on getting paying users from afar, but during the planning stage they promoted local children being able to walk to a central a facility and a reduction of vehicles in the village. (Source – AFCplanning application and proposed.)

- Lack of transparency. This whole process has been carried out in an underhanded way, causing fears of a link to the MVDC sale of Meadowbank in Dorking, displacing sports users from Dorking to Ashtead. (Source – Community research June 2023).
   
- Adverse impact on local sports facilities/ schools who presently rent their facilities to AFC and the potential loss of income from AFC.
   
- Noise and light pollution generated from the suggested floodlights and use into the late hours. (Public opinion.)
   
- Adverse impact on the hugely popular annual Ashtead Village Day, and the charitable organisations who rely on this event as their largest fund raising exercise. (Source: Ashtead Rotary Club and poll of charities.)

April 26th, 2023
Following a request for a formal update from MVDC, a council official has shared the following update:

"I can confirm that at present no decision has been made as to the implementation of the enhanced MUGA Development at Ashtead recreation ground.  The latest Mole Valley position is to consult with local councillors and residents before writing a recommendation paper for our members to decide if landowner permission should be forthcoming following their approved planning application."

"As you may be aware we act as Trustees on behalf of Fields in Trust who would also need to be in agreement before any such development could proceed. We are aware that the issue of the crumb used within 3G Pitches is somewhat contentious at present but within their submitted business plan they state they are not using this product and the representations received on the matter are therefore inaccurate."

"Given the pending local elections due this year consultation will take place in the summer with recommendations to cabinet to follow. You will be able to submit any concerns and views at this time so it can be considered in the subsequent recommendations. I hope this provides you with a sufficient update at this time."

An ARGUG representative has informed the council official that it was AFC who introduced the reference to ‘Granulated rubber’ into the discussion through presentations they gave on the 23rd and 24th August 2022. The public interest was therefore generated by them and not inaccurate. AFC have not publicly provided the wider community with any details of their plans, despite being invited to keep people updated by Cllr Vivyan-Robinson who responded to the 1,100 community signed petition against the plans at a full MVDC meeting on the 11th October 2022.

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