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Soccer pitch plan kicks off again

PUBLISHED: 10:01 02 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:04 07 July 2010

Plans to reinstate football pitches on a Thetford common have been kicked back into play following a public campaign.

Civic leaders dashed proposals for a £1m development on Barnham Cross Common earlier this year after voting against applying to deregister the land.

Plans to reinstate football pitches on a Thetford common have been kicked back into play following a public campaign.

Civic leaders dashed proposals for a £1m development on Barnham Cross Common earlier this year after voting against applying to deregister the land.

But Thetford Town Councillors are set to take another look at the scheme to boost grassroots football in the town after learning that new pitches could be created without having to build on the land.

The council's amenities committee is now set to work with local Football Association officials and the neighbouring Charles Burrell High School to discuss moving the development forward, on the condition that the common's playing field area is not deregistered.

The decision comes after a petition was formed urging the town council to reconsider the plans for eight new 11-a-side pitches, mini soccer pitches, pavilion, and floodlit training area for Barnham Cross Common.

Gavin Lemmon, county development manager for the Norfolk Football Association, told town councillors on Wednesday night that local adult and youth teams were having to travel outside of Thetford to play their home games because the town only had five 11-a-side community pitches and it needed 20 to meet demand.

He added that the potential for the common was “immense” and the current football participation rate in Thetford was “alarming” with only 3.9pc of Thetford's male population playing, compared to the 5.8pc in Norfolk. The Football Foundation charity could fund about 60pc of the project, he added.

Town councillors agreed to revisit the issue after Robert Ogden, deputy head of Charles Burrell High, said the school would be happy to house the sports pavilion, changing facilities and 3rd generation floodlit pitch on its grounds, which would boost the Thomas Paine Sixth Form's football academy.

Mayor Robert Kybird said issues over the funding of the development and the fencing off of the common still needed to be resolved, but the scheme had the potential to provide something for all age groups in Thetford.

Derek Mortimer added: “We are not in principle against football on the common, but we are against the fencing off of the common and the taking away of the rights of the townsfolk to roam,” he said.

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