By Mollie Bennett
Work is well under-way on Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club’s new state of the art training ground, but just how will it benefit the community.
The new £29million facilities will be based at New Monks Farm in Mash Barn Lane, Lancing.
It boasts 11 full size outdoor football pitches, with five for use by the first team and the other six for academy, youth team and community use.
It will also have a distinctive Y-shaped two-storey building, which will contain an indoor pitch, changing rooms, a swimming pool, medicine facilities, a gym, physio rooms and offices for the club’s analysts.
Albion have also recently submitted an application for three more pitches at the venue, insisting that it would not increase the number of people using the training ground.
They claim it would allow extra rotation at the facilities, to decrease wear on the pitches, increase the availability for community use and allow more time for schools and local clubs during the week.
Despite this, residents have objected to increase the application insisting it will impact on the local flood plain.
The club, however, say that as the pitches are being built four and a half metres above the existing ground water table, they will collect the rain waiter and use it for irrigation of the pitches.
The site, which is being built on land that was unused, is set to boast the local economy but some residents are not pleased with the project.
The Mash Barn Community Group fears it will create late night noise and light issues as well increase the traffic around the area.
They argue the land could have had greater public use if Adur District Council had instead opted to develop the site into seven public football pitches.
On the other hand, Albion insist the site will deliver a vital economic boost with the estimated 300 jobs it is set to create, along with the three million pound worth of building contracts that could be injected into the community.
Barry McLaughlin, of Albion in the Community believes it will have a positive influence, stating that it would serve to strengthen some of Brighton’s community engagement, including its Want to Work scheme, which has seen more than 300 people gain employment over the past year,
The bid was eventually accepted in September 2012 when eight councilors took just an hour and a half to decide unanimously to back the project.
Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council, said: “This is the largest investment in Lancing’s history and very important for the people of Lancing and Adur.”
A decision was originally expected in May 2012 but Albion were forced back to the drawing board when a number of concerns were raised over noise pollution, extra traffic and access to the site.
Councilors agreed to grant planning permission, subject to amendments, which included shorter lighting columns in the car park and alterations to the access roads.
Despite the amendments neighbours are still concerned about the noise pollution as well as traffic and access to the site, which would be along a two-way road that passes through a neighbouring estate,
The site would also include a 303-space car park with room for a coach and about 30 bicycles.
Brighton and Hove Albion director Martin Perry, reacted to the criticism insisting the club is eager to develop a good relationship with its neightbours at the Lancing site.
He said: “The facility will have a community-use agreement and subject to availability it will be open to the public.”
Perry also believes the site will create a new community legacy as the club has confirmed the scheme is making an investment of £1.3m towards additional sporting facilities within Adur to support emerging talent.
The Sussex County FA, based in Culver Road, Lancing, say they are delighted to see the development go ahead, insisting it will enhance the community in various ways, including bringing in business for the local businesses and creating employment possibilities in the local area.
They went on to explain how it will enable the local community to utilize better facilities by way of the financial contribution from the club to Adur District Council to enhance the existing faculties within the district.
“The Sussex County FA is delighted to see the development go ahead and will work with both the club and the local authorities to ensure that the community is a winner here,” they said.
Carrie Reynolds, who is community development manager at Inspire Leisure, the local gym facilities partnered with the Arun District Council, is also in favor of the new training ground.
She said: “Having BHAFC in our local area has had such a positive impact on community sport, and the work that the AITC team do day-to-day which improves the lives of so many.
“To have the football club invest in this fantastic facility will only improve community sport opportunities even further.”
Albion have been criticised for the location of their training facilities as they are outside Brighton, however they believe the 40-acre location will attract fans from across the whole area.
The club has selected the same company that constructed the Amex and the highway maintenance to and from the stadium, to build the site which is set to be fully functional for the start of Albion’s 2014 pre-season.
Buckingham Group Contracting will be constructing the site as part of a £22 million contract, while Adenstar Developments will be constructing the access road linking with the existing Mash Barn Lane.
The Adur-based company previously built the access roads through the University of Sussex, and will be performing under a £600,000 engineering contract.