Neighbours’ anger at new floodlit football pitch

Broxburn residents are fighting the pitch plans. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Broxburn residents are fighting the pitch plans. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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Angry residents have branded plans to install a floodlit football pitch just metres from their homes a “nightmare”.

The proposals would see one of Broxburn Academy’s two full-size playing fields upgraded to a 3G all-weather sports pitch – complete with three-metre-high fencing and six lighting columns.

But neighbours have lashed out at the scheme over fears a decision to allow the pitch to be used by the public outside of school hours could lead to problems with noise, littering and bright lights streaming into adjacent properties.

More than 90 objections have already been received by councillors ahead of tomorrow’s meeting to decide whether or not to give the blueprints the go-ahead.

But despite this, West Lothian Council chiefs have recommended the plans for “conditional approval”, leading frustrated locals to accuse officials of failing to listen to their concerns.

Graeme Barrie, vice-chairman of the Academy Grange Residents’ Association, insisted protesters were “not saying no to the pitch – we’re saying no to this particular proposal”. The father-of-two said: “The objections have come from people who live directly within one or two rows of housing – all bar five of them. The big thing is the noise. The fact is, they are planning on doing this within literally feet of the houses.

“None of the comments in favour of the development have come from anyone living nearby. If residents who are directly affected by this because they live next door are not being listened to, then what do we have to do to be listened to?

“93 people is an awful lot, but clearly it’s not enough. There’s a lot of people who believe – possibly cynically – that the council are trying to basically steamroll this through.

“A school is a school – we accept that. Schools make school noises. But to then open the pitch to the public is different – grown men playing football make a whole lot more noise than school kids.”

Original plans for the site – lodged by the council’s sports development and outdoor education service – included proposals to open it to the public until 10pm on weekdays and 8pm on weekends, but this was amended to 6pm after complaints flooded in.

The size of the pitch was also reduced by eight metres and the number of floodlights brought down from eight to six, but neighbours argue the playing field is still too close to housing, with just 17 metres separating the pitch from the nearest properties.

Mr Barrie’s wife, Lisa, 37, said concerns also focused on the use of bad language by adult players, who would have access to the grounds on holidays and weekends.

She said: “It’s just a bit of a nightmare. It’s the close proximity, it’s the noise and the light shining in the windows, and the bad language. Broxburn 
Academy is in the middle of a residential area.”

A spokeswoman for West Lothian Council said: “The applicant has already made several changes to the proposal to address the concerns raised by residents and these changes, with the objections, are set out in the report.

“Residents will have the 
opportunity to further outline their objections to the committee members and the decision on the application will only be made after a full hearing at the committee meeting.”