Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips has backed plans for new grass pitches at his boyhood club in Wortley.
They also want improved drainage on the grass pitch they already play on at the former school site, which closed in 2013, as well as new car parking and fencing.
In a letter supporting the planning application, 23-year-old Leeds midfielder Mr Phillips thanked the club for its support as a young player and said it was ‘good to hear’ about the plans. He played for Wortley Boys between 2003 and 2010 and added:
“I really enjoyed my time at the club and I still watch some of the games. The pitches will make a lot of difference to the club, both from the playing side and supporting. When I played we all played at different pitches so my mum had to run around to get myself and my brother to games, which meant she did not get to see both our games.
“I still have friends and relations playing at the club with the open-age men’s team.
“There are many benefits to [the] proposals, like the opportunities it will give local children, and adults who may wish to become coaches. Knowing the site as I do, I know it would benefit from a facelift. To this end I fully support this project and hope to come along when it is finished for a tour around.”
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has also added her support. She said:
“There is currently a shortage in Leeds of good-quality grass pitches available for junior football. If Wortley FC is able to fund their proposed redevelopment of grass pitches at Blue Hill Lane a greater number of children will have the opportunity to take part in activities.
“The club will also be able to expand their provision of community events and family fun days.”
Nearby Dixons Unity Academy and Holy Family Primary School have also added their support to the plans, alongside Farnley and Wortley councillors Ann and David Blackburn (Green) and Matt Gibson (Lab).
A planning statement submitted with the application said:
“The club’s ability to maintain its current playing roster and to continue its development is becoming more difficult without more space to play. These constraints need to be set in the all too familiar context of local authority and school playing fields that are becoming more costly to hire and with deteriorating standards of maintenance.”
Armley councillor Alison Lowe (Lab) and seven club sponsors have also expressed their support, as has Leeds Schools Sports Association, which owns former pitches off Oldfield Lane which have been recently earmarked for new council housing.
The club is seeking to complete negotiations with Leeds City Council for a long-term lease on the site. In the meantime, the club has raised more than £50,000 to start building its own changing rooms on the lower plateau at Blue Hill Lane.
Officials are currently negotiating a lease for the whole of the site with Leeds City Council. The Wortley FC pitch improvement proposals will then be the subject of an invited application to the Football Foundation.
The site of a the derelict former Wortley High School building is the subject of a separate planning application for 59 houses. The Dispatch reported last month how a council decision on the plans was postponed at the 11th hour after developers Keepmoat raised concerns about escalating costs.
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