Highways say Hollies outdoor sport plan could hit road safety

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

Highways chiefs are urging rejection of plans to turn 21 acres of land on the edge of Ipswich into a new outdoor sports site because of road safety reasons.

Experts say there would not be enough room to create necessary visibility splays on Straight Road at Foxhall, and not enough room for tractors and coaches to pass on the road.

AFC Kesgrave, one of Suffolk's fastest-growing football clubs, is hoping to use the land as its home pitch locations for both youth and adult football.

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

Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) has applied to East Suffolk Council for planning permission 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.

However, highways offices at Suffolk County Council are recommending refusal of the project.

Ben Winton development management technician growth, Highways and Infrastructure, said: "It does not appear as though sufficient visibility splays would be achievable from the proposed access to allow for vehicles to safely enter the public highway."

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As it was a 60mph road, visibility of at least 215m in both directions was needed and it was "unacceptable" that third party land would need to be crossed to achieve this.

Mr Winton said the geometry of Straight Road would be unsuitable to accommodate coaches turning on to and off the highway when accessing the parking area.

He said: "This could result in vehicles having to drive over verges, or ground unsuitable for vehicles. Additionally, Straight Road is frequently used by large farming vehicles and there is insufficient width to allow farm vehicles and coaches to safely pass each other."

The lack of surfaced car parking area is also of concern as it could lead to mud on the public highway "which poses too great a risk to highway safety".

SAA 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.

SAA says: "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."