Row over expanding footy club

“WE want our village football club to expand” - that is the message today from many residents in Stowupland.

“WE want our village football club to expand” - that is the message today from many residents in Stowupland.

Stowupland Falcons' football club, founded in 1974, hopes to embark on a £1 million plus expansion creating a new clubhouse and seven pitches at Rendall Lane in the community near Stowmarket.

The organisation has been operating behind the village hall with just a few pitches it shares with others and is considering creating the new development on 16 acres of agricultural land.

Today in the community there were strong reactions both for and against - but retired Colin Churchill, who has lived there for three years, is adamant it is a good idea.

He said: “I do not know what all the fuss is about, it would be at the bottom of a field away from houses. This would be brilliant for youngsters, I am all in favour of football in the community.”

Andy Wallace, who has two children at the village primary school, said he thought the idea of expanding facilities was a superb one.

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And Jake Francis, 15, from Stowupland, said: “I would welcome this. For certain age groups there is enough to do, but for the 15 and 16-year-olds it is not brilliant.”

Andy Taylor, vice chairman and the organisation's development officer, said they have been speaking to a local farmer about acquiring the land and hope to secure funding from the Football Association and other organisations.

He added: “It has been questioned why we need so many teams. But for a village football club this would be a fantastic achievement, villagers should be proud of it and not kicking it.

“It would be a real boost for the youngsters and while we are looking into other possible locations within Stowupland, we do not want to move away. I hope that is not forced on us, there has been a team here for 100 years and we want to keep at the heart of the community.”

The Falcons have selected an architect and are looking for a surveyor as they progress their plans, but have not yet submitted a planning application to Mid Suffolk District Council.

Officials have estimated it would take three years before teams were playing on the land, and building the clubhouse could take even longer.

But more than 100 residents packed into a recent public meeting to debate the plans and now those who are worried have launched a website - Save our Stowupland - fearing the move will erode the green belt that separates the village from other communities, including rapidly expanding Stowmarket.

John Cummins, a retired civil servant who lives in Saxham Street, said there will be a major increase in traffic.

He, along with other residents, fear that there will be more noise, especially at weekends and evenings, and if permission for floodlighting is granted there will be no end to the activities which will spoil the peace and tranquillity of the beautiful rural village.

And villager Kate Cole, mother of two, said: “It's expanding to a ridiculous size, and I do not know any children from our village who play in their teams.”