Burnley Football Club has been given the go-ahead to kick off with plans to transform its Gawthorpe training facilities, despite opposition from a number of wildlife groups.
The club’s application to build on green belt land near to Gawthorpe Hall was passed by Burnley Borough Council’s Development Control Committee, but must now gain government approval.
The club had applied to raise the standard of the facility to meet the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) Category 1 and 2 standard of infrastructure.
The Turf Moor outfit, seeking to secure a quick return to the Premier League after last season’s relegation, now plans to develop a 73,000m. area across the River Calder from the existing facility and build a new training centre for the first team, development squad and youth team players under one roof for the first time.
Facilities will also include an indoor all-weather area with a small spectator gallery, to meet the requirements of EPPP.
Outside, plans include the development of three full-sized training pitches, each measuring 68m x 105m.
We now look forward to entering a new era for Burnley Football Club and taking this club forward for generations to come.Director Clive Holt
For youth team players, in addition to the current match pitch and four mini-pitches, the club will add two further three-quarter size pitches.
A new car park built north of the river, accessed via a refurbished bridge over the River Calder, is expected to ease the pressure on the National Trust car park close to Gawthorpe Hall, especially at peak times.
On the south side of the river, the existing top pitch is to be floodlit.
In a statement, Burnley Football Club thanked the council for approving the plans, and moved to assure the various conservation and environmental groups that it remains sensitive and committed to their concerns.
The planning application has been a long and difficult one for the club, with many conditions needed to meet the concerns of residents, environmental groups and the adjacent National Trust-owned, Grade 1 listed Gawthorpe Hall.
Over half of the proposed site will be enhanced to meet ecological needs.
Many trees and hedgerows will be added to enhance the site as a whole and encourage local wildlife, and the club also has general agreement to sponsor some further environmental work off-site to provide new wetlands.
However, as these new plans fall within the green belt, the club is still reliant on government approval, and the plans could be “called in” by the Government to be considered further by the Secretary of State.
In addition, due to the development’s location next to Gawthorpe Hall, the deeds have a covenant placed on them with permission required from the National Trust to build certain parts of the project. Discussions are currently ongoing with the National Trust.
Subject to final approval, work on the Gawthorpe improvements is expected to start later this year.
Club director Mr Clive Holt said: “We have been trying to reach this day over a number of years to bring our facilities up to the latest standard.
“This has been greatly helped by last season in the Premier League and the rewards that brings.
“We now look forward to entering a new era for Burnley Football Club and taking this club forward for generations to come.”
Stadium and operations manager Mr Doug Metcalfe added: “The process to get to this point has been long and arduous, but we are delighted that a positive outcome has been achieved for the club.
“We have never lost focus on the importance of these facilities and the hugely positive effect it will undoubtedly have in the development of the club and its vision.
“Although we have carried out some redevelopment work to our existing facility in recent years, they were still a long way short of what we require.
“The new environment will allow us to provide the facilities necessary to continually develop the club.”