Stedham village sports plan hit by a new hitch

Stedham villagers are having to go back to the drawing board after being forced to withdraw their £350,000 plans for state-of-the-art sporting facilities.

The project has been the subject of a four-year controversy in the village where two public meetings have seen strong views for and against the scheme.

The Collins and Sports Club project committee submitted its latest plans to Chichester District Council several weeks ago.

They centred on the demolition of the current club and the building of four new homes on the site as well as the development of a new clubhouse and pavilion on the sports field.

It has always been envisaged that the funds generated by the redevelopment of existing club house would finance the upgraded facilities across the road.

But at a parish meeting attended by more than 80 people, villagers were told a land-swap deal with a house next to the sports field had failed and the club’s architects had advised the application would be turned down without a road-widening scheme.

It is the second time project leaders have been forced to pull out of an application.

Last year they withdrew after being told it was likely to be refused because Chichester District Council’s heritage adviser objected as he believed the existing club house was of historic value and should be preserved.

Now a new committee is to be formed to take the project forward after lawyer Stephen McGairl, who lives in village, suggested the trustees of the club and the parish council should jointly select a new group of people who had not been involved in the management of the club.

The new group will consist of representatives from the parish council as well as Collins club members.