Bid to boost Sidmouth Town Football Club and improve communication across valley scores support

Sidmouth Town Football Club grounds

Sidmouth Town Football Club grounds - Credit: Archant

Plans would see installation of six flood lights and equipment to deliver better mobile phone service

Sidmouth Town Football Club grounds

Sidmouth Town Football Club grounds - Credit: Archant

A bid to boost Sidmouth Town Football Club and improve communication for the wider community was dubbed a ‘win-win’ solution by councillors.

Plans submitted by Shared Access Limited would see the installation of six flood lights at the Manstone Lane ground, along with equipment to deliver better 2G, 3G and 4G mobile phone services.

The town council’s planning committee unanimously agreed last week that the proposals - hailed as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ by club bosses - would offer ‘the greatest benefit to the greatest number’.

Councillor Simon Pollentine said: “It’s an area for recreation right through from the football ground to the skate park and I feel it’s best to keep them in that area where people can get used to them and co-exist with them.

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“I feel this development provides an opportunity not simply for the club and its organised activities, but for the rest of the valley, because everybody has a mobile phone.”

He added that it is important to stipulate that the lights should be automatically switched off at 9.30pm – a condition the applicant has already agreed to.

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Shared Access is a company which supports grass-roots sports by helping clubs source investment and is proposing to install five 13.5m-high poles to support the lights, with the sixth standing at 17.5metres for the mobile phone mast.

It also noted that the introduction of floodlights could open up another area in the town for potential use as a night landing site for Devon Air Ambulance.

Cllr Kelvin Dent said: “17.5m is a hell of a height and I’m amazed there have not been more objections. I think it must be a reflection of the tolerance of people around there and the fact it has been accepted as a recreational area.”

Cllr Jeff Turner added his support and said: “On balance, do the benefits overcome the drawbacks? One person did write to voice his concerns, but he says he wishes the football club all the best and he has no problems with the lighting. He is worried about the intrusive, very high pole going up and spoiling the view but he is actually screened by the line of trees.

“I guess if someone tried to put this somewhere else in the valley, there would be some stronger objections.”

Cllr Ian Barlow said: “4G is very important to many people. The town clerk is looking into getting the best deal for the town so we are not going to be looking at something in 10 or 20 years’ time that is no benefit to anybody.”

As landowner of the site, the authority stated a collective interest in the application, which will be decided on by the district council.

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