2:17pm Wednesday 19th February 2014
By Mike Murphy-Pyle
The owner of a football team said a "ridiculous" decision from Sutton Council could cost the club more than £80,000 and damage it for years.
Carshalton Athletic applied to Sutton Council for planning permission to convert its grass pitch into a synthetic '3G' pitch but had the application turned down last month.
The club's owner Paul Dipre has criticised the council for its decision, which was based on the extra noise increased use of the pitch would cause to neighbours.
Mr Dipre said the planned pitch would move noise further from local houses as they would not have to use nearby parks for training.
The use of 3G pitches is becoming more popular in non-league football as they reduce cancellations due to adverse weather, are cheaper to maintain and can be used more frequently than grass pitches without deterioration.
Tooting and Mitcham FC already has a 3G pitch and Sutton United has called on its league to change the rules to allow 3G pitches.
The council's reason for refusing Carshalton Athletic's application was because an increase in the use of the pitch would cause noise for neighbours - something Mr Dipre said is not true.
He said: "They've made their decision and the cost of the planning application and the appeal will run to £25,000 to £30,000. The losses will continue next season with postponements and having to train elsewhere.
"Everyone is moving towards 3G pitches but we can't and that's a great shame as it will cost the club up to £100,000 in the next year or so.
"This would have been a free investment in the area for the council - it would help the council in its targets in terms of getting children off the streets, health and obesity.
"But they've turned it down on the false premise that it would cause an increase in noise when the nearest house is 100m away compared to the nearest house from Sutton United's pitch which is 25m away and they get more supporters turning up than us. It's ridiculous."
A map showing the distances to the houses nearest the pitch
A council spokesman said: "The Development Committee carefully considered the benefits of Carshalton Athletic Football Club’s proposals against the concerns of local residents, and decided to refuse the applications.
"The committee considered that the proposals would lead to a significant increase in the use of the grounds which would be have a negative impact on local residents and lead to additional traffic and on-street parking in the area."
Mr Dipre said the council's decision was influenced by a campaign from a group of supporters he says spread lies about him having plans to hire the 3G pitch out to lots of users and move it away from being a community football club.
Mr Dipre added: "All I've ever tried to do since I got here five years ago is stuff that will be good for the club.
"In the years before I came it had nine owners and 12 chairman. It's been bankrupt, there were problems with crime - it was a plague on the neighbourhood.
"Now we've been named National Community Club of the Year and got a silver award in the Best Grassroots Club in Europe."
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