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Southampton FC to enlarge Staplewood training ground at Marchwood
SAINTS are planning to extend their training ground by building six new pitches and a 40ft dome.
The Premier League club wants to boost its youth academy, which has already produced stars such as Luke Shaw, Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, by expanding the Staplewood facility in Long Lane, Marchwood.
Civic chiefs are being recommended to approve the scheme – the latest phase of a £15m redevelopment of the site - at a meeting today.
The application has sparked only three objections and is likely to be given the go-ahead by New Forest District Council.
A report to councillors says the scheme includes an extra 108 parking spaces, a dome providing an indoor training area and floodlighting for two of the new pitches.
The report adds: “The use of the site as a football training ground would be a significant change.
“However, given the proximity of the existing training ground and the fact that the use would largely preserve the open character of the site, this change is not considered harmful to the landscape.”
The inflatable Covair dome will be recessed into the ground and will thus rise only about 33ft above the surrounding land.
“The proposed development would have no adverse impact on the character and appearance of the area, nature conservation interests or highway safety,” says the report.
If the scheme goes ahead the new pitches will be built on agricultural land south of the existing facilities.
The planning application says: “The proposals, although large in scale, are modest in terms of their impact on the surrounding area. As with previous planning applications there are no plans to recruit additional staff or increase the number of footballers.
“The purpose of the scheme is merely to provide enlarged and improved facilities for the club’s youth academy and pre-academy.”
The dome will cover one of the proposed new pitches, enabling players to train in bad weather. It will replace a similar structure at the existing training ground.
Marchwood Parish Council is urging the district council to approve the application.
The Staplewood ground is already sporting a new look following the construction of a new two-storey complex containing a medical centre, a players’ lounge and other facilities.
Earlier this year two builders were sacked after hiding a Pompey shirt at the site.
Footage appeared online of the workers concealing a Portsmouth FC shirt and scarf in a wall partition, prompting uproar from some Saints fans.
As reported in the Daily Echo, the workers were dismissed by their employer and the items of clothing removed.
A Saints spokesman confirmed that the application to extend the Staplewood ground was part of a £15m project to improve the facility but made no further comment.
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