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Hampshire FA rule playing field 'unfit' at new Pennyfarthing estate in Milford

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A PLAYING field provided by a developer as part of a controversial 42-home estate in Milford is not fit for use, according to the Hampshire FA, amid complaints about stones and glass scattered the site.

Debris at the public open space behind the village primary school was blamed for an injury to a dog which, according to a report to the parish council, required emergency treatment.

The FA assessment was commissioned by parish councillors ahead of Pennyfarthing Homes handing over the 2.2-hectare area, to check concerns about debris, poor drainage and uneven grass.

The report from Hampshire FA revealed "major problems"
The report from Hampshire FA revealed "major problems"

The agreement includes a one-off payment of £182,000 to the council towards maintenance.

Under the terms of the planning permission, Pennyfarthing Homes is required to provide public open space.

However, a technical note added to the planning consent confirms the company is not expected to provide playable pitches up to Sport England standards.

Milford parish clerk Graham Wells told the A&T: “Our argument has never been that they should be providing sports pitches to Sport England standards, but simply that in its current state the field is unsafe for children and adults to run on and play on.

“The parish council fully accepts that it will have to spend some money on drainage and other work to create playable pitches and we are happy to do that. But we will not accept ownership of the field when it is a danger to anyone using it.”

He said Pennyfarthing had undertaken some remedial work but he was not still confident that the pitches were up to standard.

At a recent parish council meeting, Cllr Matthew Goode warned: “Anyone knows that if you push down stones with regular activity they will come back up again. But it’s not just stones in the ground – I pulled out glass, sharp tiles, plastics.”

Confirming that a report from Hampshire FA had revealed "major problems" in a visit in February, Mr Wells said the council would not accept ownership of the land until it was safe.

The report said: "It was clear that required ground works have not been completed or maintained to a level to be safe and acceptable for either recreational or affiliated sport.

"There were visible areas of pooling and standing water that had become stagnant and dark in colour, and the grass coverage was patchy and uneven, and there were visual signs of surface stones and debris, which included wood skirting board and chipboard."

Cllr Goode added: "

At some point we will have the option to accept the land – which, of course, we want to – but only if we can keep it safe for people.”

Following reports of the injured dog, the site was re-fenced on Tuesday to prevent public access.

A spokesperson for Pennyfarthing Homes said: "Following a meeting with Milford Parish Council and New Forest District Council on Friday 11th February, it was agreed that the surface of the public open space has been much improved in recent months, and we’ve agreed a programme of future maintenance, to be conducted by Pennyfarthing Homes, over the coming months.

"Pennyfarthing Homes will thereafter hand over the public open space to the parish council who will be able to convert the land for community use as they see fit."

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