A CRICKET club is trying for a second time to get approval for unpopular plans to build a three-storey block of flats on a field used by young footballers.

The original application by Abingdon Vale Cricket Club, which was refused in February, received a slew of objections, including from government body Sport England.

Concerned residents also raised fears over increased traffic on the narrow Northcourt Lane and the land being in a conservation area, on top of the impact on Abingdon United Football Club, which rents the field for youth football.

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But now the cricket club has submitted a modified scheme to Vale of White Horse District Council, reducing the number of flats from 10 to nine and 'significantly reducing' the size of the second floor, as well as the overall development's footprint.

Those opposed to the plans, however, are not convinced by what they say are 'minor' changes.

The Oxford Times:

Roberta Nichols, in a submission on behalf of the Friends of Abingdon Civic Society, said the alterations did not address the 'fundamental reasons' for the group's objection and that the building was 'completely inappropriate' for the site.

Paul Wenman, who lives opposite the field and campaigned against the first proposal, said the community was 'dismayed' the cricket club had resubmitted the plans.

A major impact of the development would be the loss of space for Abingdon United's youth teams to train.

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Currently around 50 boys and girls aged from seven to 14 play on the field from the club several times a week.

Club secretary John Blackmore said Abingdon United, which rents its main pitch from Vale next to the site, did not wish to formally comment, previously calling the situation ‘too personal’ and said the club was happy to have Sport England respond to the application on its behalf again.

The Oxford Times:

The organisation's principal planning manager Ben Sharples submitted an official objection to the initial application, stating there was a 'clear need' to retain the land for football use.

Documents submitted on behalf of the cricket club, however, continue to argue the flats are needed to secure the financial future of the club and improve facilities.

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It stated Abingdon Vale had become a 'victim of its own success' adding: "The continued growth of the club will, shortly, outstrip the resources to maintain it."

The submission goes on to say the club's income is currently around £32,000 a year, while annual expenditure was £35,000.

It continued: “This means that the club’s available cash resources are being eroded, which in turn means that its ability to invest is limited in large part to maintaining the status quo and the very selective replacement of expensive equipment.”

Downplaying the current arrangement with Abingdon United, which has had an agreement to use the field since 2013 in exchange for maintaining the land, it described this as a ‘tenuous licence’ that could ‘be terminated at short notice’. Comments can be submitted until July 3 via whitehorsedc.gov.uk, with a decision date on the application expected by July 28.