COUNCILLORS will meet next week to rule on plans for a new community sports hub in Chester.

The proposal by Chester FC Community Trust and Cheshire West and Chester Council, who are working in collaboration on the project, has been recommended for approval.

Members of the planning committee will meet virtually at 4pm on Tuesday, December 1 to make a decision on the application.

If approved, the scheme will result in a new full-size floodlit 3G pitch and sports pavilion off Blacon Avenue, together with improved access, car parking and ancillary works.

The pavilion will have two main changing rooms and a large training room, together with a car park providing a total of 104 spaces for cars and two spaces for coaches.

The application forms a key part of the wider vision for King George V Sports Hub, which also includes the improvement of the grass pitches and existing pavilion at the adjacent King George V playing fields.

In a report to the planning committee, council case officer Paul Friston recommends that the plans are given the go-ahead.

He states that "multiple representations of support" have been given to the proposal, which highlighted the positive impact it would have on the community.

Also mentioned was the fact it would develop a "community asset" which provides a "positive legacy for future generations".

Chester and District Standard:

An artist's impression of what the 3G floodlit pitch would look like at the KGV community sports hub.

The representations also referred to Chester FC Community Trust being an ideal stakeholder and partner to manage the facility as they have a "proven track record" of managing and running much-needed projects.

Another said the grass pitches can be made available to hire to professional organisations such as Chester FC.

The report also states that two objections have been received.

One of the reasons was on the grounds that the development would "remove a large amount of green space which is currently used for recreation and dog walking".

Another concern raised was: "The surrounding area of Chester/Ellesmere Port would be encouraged to use this sports facility and this would push out local people/local use to achieve a football academy, which will be taken over for use by Chester FC."

The case officer's report says that the scheme will deliver community use of the Blacon Avenue site which can be secured by planning condition.

Mr Friston states: "Chester FC Community Trust aim to improve and enhance the lives of people living in Chester and surrounding areas.

"Established in 2013, they deliver high quality football and sport opportunities, education programmes, social inclusion provision, and health and well-being projects for people of all ages and abilities.

"The intention is for Chester FC Community Trust to enter into a long-term lease with the council to manage the facility. The University of

Chester (as existing leaseholder) has been involved in the discussions relating to the site, and the university itself has expressed an interest in using the proposed 3G pitch and changing facilities for football.

"Chester FC Community Trust have confirmed the proposed 3G will be available for community use and for use by agreement with Chester University.

"The university would terminate their lease for the site and enter into an arrangement with Chester FC Community Trust for their required usage."

He adds: "Representations have been made in relation to the loss of open space and informal use. It is considered that there would still be opportunities for informal recreation activities on the remaining area, and the details of continued public access would be a matter for the community use management agreement.

"There is some loss of open aspect and loss in terms of a single large open space area, but the benefits in terms sports provision from the facility would outweigh this harm."

The council is investing £365,000 in the scheme and has applied to the Football Foundation for an estimated £750,000 grant with the Community Trust working to secure additional funding to enable work to commence in early 2021.

Speaking after the application was formally submitted, Jim Green, CEO of Chester FC Community Trust, said: "The 3G pitch will make a massive difference for local clubs, providing a top class facility for training and games, helping players reach their potential and increasing participation with a specific focus on girls’ football.

"It will also support the improvement and maintenance of the grass pitches for future generations.

"The site will host a diverse mix of projects and activities delivered by the Community Trust and our partners as we want everyone to have the opportunity to use and enjoy the site, and this is a project that will deliver significant benefits for the borough, creating new jobs, education and training opportunities, and inspiring people to lead healthier, more active lives."