PROPOSALS to locate a new ‘multi-sports hub’ for Bradford on Avon on the Beehive Field are likely to be strongly opposed by local residents, it was claimed yesterday.

The proposal is contained in the new Neighbourhood Plan for the town, which residents are being asked to vote on in a public referendum on Wednesday, September 20.

The plan states: “Current investigations by Bradford on Avon Football Club are focused on an idea to combine with other sporting clubs and activities to create a Sports Hub elsewhere in the town, possibly on the southern edge of the town at the Beehive Field.

“Development in this location would be within the Green Belt and would need to be assessed in relation to the Green Belt policies of the National Planning Policy Framework and the Wiltshire Core Strategy."

Mark Hodkinson, chair of Bradford on Avon Town Football Club and Bradford Town Youth Football Club, said that new facilities were badly needed by the senior club and the 400-plus youngsters belonging to the youth teams.

“We have 37 teams involved in all the age groups and they have nowhere to play they can call their own. For the past couple of years, we have had to rent pitches here, there and everywhere.”

Mr Hodkinson said the clubs would like to move to a new site from their existing ground on the Trowbridge Road, which they lease from Fields in Trust, a London-based organisation that protects playing fields and outdoor recreation spaces.

“We are working towards a proposal for the Beehive Field but at the moment it’s just a suggestion, there are no actual plans at present. We can’t do anything until we have the result of the public referendum on the Neighbourhood Plan.”

It is hoped the Beehive Field may be the site for a new ‘multi-sports hub’ comprising football pitches, bowls greens and archery, along with new changing and other sports and social facilities.

But such a move is likely to run into strong opposition from local residents concerned about noise, an increase in traffic and football club spectators parking in nearby residential roads. It could also run into opposition from planners concerned about encroachment into the Green Belt.

Paul Streeting, of Loddon Way, said: “Parking in our region is bad enough now on match days at the local football club and I have voiced my concerns to the council and police about this matter in the past. If plans go ahead for this sports hub, then expect opposition from many residents.

“I have spoken to fellow residents whose homes back onto the side of the field and none of us have been asked for our thoughts on plonking a sports hub right behind our homes. No letters or surveys have been done to ask those whose properties will be hit by noise of matches and the effects it will have on our lives.

“Residents I have talked to so far feel upset and we are already talking of getting a petition to stop the proposed ideas going further. I have written to our local councillor Sarah Gibson to voice my concerns.”

His wife, Sandra, says she is “most concerned” about the Neighbourhood Plan proposal and that Bradford on Avon Town Council should “think again” and get it amended.

She said: “The document is well laid out and a very good idea but who could imagine it would be a good idea to put a sports ground next to several hundred bungalows containing sick, disabled and old people.

“The noise would be stressful beyond belief and we already have parking problems when sports events are held locally, so how much worse will it get when people park along Loddon Way and the cul-de-sacs at the end of it, so that they can walk easily to the fields.”

Mrs Streeting, 66, said: “We will have no use of our gardens or outside places if the noise of large crowds at matches, large light for evening matches and cars coming and going at all hours due to the social activities.”

Cllr Dominic Newton, of Bradford on Avon Town Council, said: “The town council is absolutely committed to improving sports and recreation facilities in the town, for everyone to use, whether young, old and of all abilities.

“The town has a fantastic sporting pedigree, and it would be great to have state-of-the-art sports facilities to continue to allow it to punch above its weight – but they will need to be in the right place.

“Nowhere in the plan does the town council commit to that particular location for a sports hub, as the scheme has been called, and members are in active communication with the football club and other parties on other potential locations, though it’s too early to go into those in detail. Some of the issues, in particular the Green Belt status, are made clear in the Neighbourhood Plan statement.”

Residents are being urged to vote ‘yes’ to the Neighbourhood Plan in the public referendum later this month. Everyone who is on the Electoral Register for Bradford on Avon is eligible to vote.

The polling stations are at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Mount Pleasant Centre, The Swan Hotel, the Youth and Community Centre and Bearfield Church.

The Neighbourhood Plan has been prepared following multiple rounds of consultation with residents, community groups and local businesses over the past four years.

In October last year, it was sent to Wiltshire Council for review by them and an independent examiner. It will set out the strategy for future development in Bradford on Avon up to 2026.