HUNDREDS of young football players could lose their club after a Washington ground’s future was thrown into doubt.
Planning consent for proposed improvements for Wrekenton Nou Camp Youth Football Club’s ground, in Springwell Village, is in tatters after a Sunderland City Council planning committee told the club it cannot build a new car park.
Club bosses had hoped the car park would be followed by changing rooms and refreshment facilities being built.
Now, they claim the club might fold if even basic improvements cannot be made, leaving hundreds of youngsters without a ground for games.
Club secretary Vicky Pegg said: “I don’t think they have studied our proposals properly and doubt they have been here on the days the teams play.
“If they had, they would know what a thriving club this is and how vital these improvements are.
“If they won’t allow us to improve even the car park, then they won’t give permission for anything else.
“We will have to seriously consider our future and may decide to call it a day, which would be a great shame.”
The 44-year-old added: “We will consider appealing against this decision.”
About 300 youngsters and 20 teams from across the North East use the Springwell Road ground at weekends for matches in the Russell Foster Youth League.
An existing grassed area used for parking is unsuitable for the large numbers of cars that bring children to games or training, according to the club.
Club chiefs fear parents are putting themselves in danger as they attempt to free cars stuck in mud by getting out and pushing them.
They had hoped to raise up to £100,000 to create 176 parking spaces on an asphalt concrete surface at the green-belt ground, used by the club for the last five years.
Instead, they say Sunderland City Council planning officers have suggested that they opt for an alternative ‘grasscrete’ surface, which would cost at least £140,000.
A report to the meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Washington area development control sub-committee agreed that a new car park would be of benefit.
However, it could see no reason why grasscrete would not be suitable and also raised issues over surface water.
He said: “The applicant has advised that grasscrete would be prohibitively expensive and alleges that such a surface can become slippery when wet, so can be dangerous.
“There are particular concerns that the proposal would increase the risk of flooding of the road leading to the camp ground.
“For such reasons, it is considered that the proposal would be prejudicial to highway safety and the free passage of traffic.”