Eaton Socon FC floodlight plan approved

HEADQUARTERS: Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House

HEADQUARTERS: Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House - Credit: Archant

A football club is celebrating a crucial off the pitch win which will enable it to move up to a higher level.

Eaton Socon Football Club (ESFC) has been given the go-ahead to put up six 50ft floodlights and netting to stop stray balls at its pitch on the Riverside Park in St Neots.

Chairman Nev Cooper said: “It went through and we are really chuffed because it has taken a long time to get there.

“It means that we are now able to move up to the next level of non-league football - but we have still got to finish in a top four position to apply for promotion.”

It has taken the club three and a half years to get the lights project off the ground in a scheme which also involves extending and rotating the pitch. Lights and an upgraded pitch are necessary for the club to move on.

The scheme is expected to cost the club around £100,000.

Huntingdonshire District Council’s Development Management Committee approved the lights and safety netting plan for the pitch, on the ground at the council-owned park.

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There had been objections from neighbours because of the potential impact of the lighting columns on the community and conservation area and the council’s own conservation and landscape departments had also raised concerns over the scheme.

Mr Cooper said the club was clearly conscious of the effect the lights would have on its neighbours and that they would only be in use for a few hours a week.

He said rotating the pitch also reduced the risk of balls going into nearby properties.

“We now have work to do in turning the pitch 90 degrees and putting the netting up,” Mr Cooper said.

A report to the development committee said the scheme demonstrated a “genuine need” for improved facilities to enable the club to make progress through the FA pyramid.

It said the public benefits of the plan outweighed the minimal harm to the conservation area.

ESFC was founded in in 1896 and is an FA charter standard club fielding four senior teams, three male and one female.