Outdoor sports site plan could give successful club a new home

AFC Kesgrave celebrate after winning the Suffolk Junior Cup. Photo: BEN POOLEY

AFC Kesgrave celebrate after winning the Suffolk Junior Cup in 2018 - the club is hoping to move to a new 20-acre site at The Hollies at Foxhall - Credit: BEN POOLEY

One of Suffolk's fastest-growing football clubs is hoping to set up a permanent home on a new outdoor sports site on the edge of Ipswich.

It is around 20 years since the site at The Hollies - the former BT and Civil Service sports and social club site at Foxhall - was used for sport.

Now AFC Kesgrave is hoping to use the land as its home pitch locations for both youth and adult football.

Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) has applied to East Suffolk Council for planning permission  for the 21-acre site in Straight Road to be used once again for sport.

SAA proposes to create seven football pitches to accommodate youth five-a-side, seven-a-side and nine-a-side games, and 11-a-side pitches suitable for both older youth and adult football.

The association says it will renovate the land previously used for football pitches in order to bring it up to a suitable standard for playing competitive football once more.

AFC Kesgrave (AFCK) - which is supported in its application by the Suffolk County Football Association Ltd - currently has 22 teams and over 400 players registered to the club across all teams.

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AFCK were formed in 2007 with just one (U10s) team. Since then the club has grown, mainly by establishing a new U8s team each season, but also by moving into adult football in 2014 with their first and reserves team. Since then they set up a veterans team in 2016 and a ladies team in 2017, and also an additional Saturday men’s team  to develop young players with the transition from youth to adult football.

The site of the old Hollies clubhouse was cleared and used for 14 new homes a few years ago.

Some householders have written to the council to voice concerns over a number of issues with the sports plan but mainly fear problems with the amount of traffic that will be generated by the use. They say vehicles already speed down Straight Road in a "scary and unacceptable" manner.

SAA says it has earmarked a sizeable area for parking, which would be used on match days between August and May, and for smaller numbers of players at other times for training.

It said: "The main use of the land would be for youth football on Saturday mornings between approximately 9.30am and 12.30pm, when AFCK would anticipate most if not all of the seven pitches to be in use on a weekly basis with the exception of school holidays.

"This would be the peak usage and allowing for each participant to require individual transport from parents / guardians, AFCK would envisage up to 150 vehicles accessing the site."

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