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‘Oldest football ground in Sussex’ to be transformed into community hub

Plans include a new clubhouse and full-size 3G football pitch with replacement floodlights (Image: Ardur District Council)

One of the oldest football grounds in Sussex will soon be hosting community football again, after plans to redevelop it were approved by Adur District Council’s planning committee.

Old Barn Way, the former ground of Southwick Football Club, will be transformed into a modern-day footballing facility and community space by Russell Martin Foundation (RMF).

Plans include a new clubhouse and full-size 3G football pitch with replacement floodlights and a spectator stand for up to 56 people to encourage local families and visitors to watch players of all ages in action.

As well as hosting changing rooms, a bar and kitchen, the single-storey clubhouse will be a flexible space for a variety of education and health improvement programmes.

The application has been approved by Adur’s planning committee, pending confirmation of drainage details.

RMF is backed by Russell Martin, a former professional footballer for Norwich City, Rangers and Scotland, who is the current manager of Southampton FC. The foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which was created by Mr Martin to give something back to the area where he was born and raised.

The site is owned by Adur District Council, which released £50,000 of funding from developers so that RMF could carry out urgent safety works to the facility, allowing football to be played at the ground again in the short-term.

Wanting to transform the site and build a new community clubhouse, RMF asked for permission to demolish the existing derelict building which had been used by Southwick Football Club. However, the site needed to become operational again before the charity could submit a planning application to redevelop the facility.

The plans include 8 metre-high netting at the southern and eastern boundaries of the pitch to protect the railway line and residents from being disturbed. A 4.5 metre-high fence is also included around the perimeter of the pitch.

Improved access from the existing car parking area will also be provided, with a new site entrance and two accessible parking spaces close to the new clubhouse.

Cllr Emma Evans, Adur’s cabinet member for the environment and leisure, said: “I’d like to thank the Russell Martin Foundation for its interest in bringing this facility back to life, for the benefit of the whole community.

“The plans for the new clubhouse and 3G football pitch are really exciting. I hope it won’t be long until locals can benefit from the site’s redevelopment.”

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