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Southampton Football Club allowed analytical cameras at Staplewood training ground in Marchwood despite neighbours' 'accidental spy' fears

SOUTHAMPTON Football Club won a bid to install new analytical cameras at it Marchwood training ground after concerns they could record neighbours were rejected by councillors.

The application to place three 12-metre, pole-mounted cameras at Staplewood Campus on Long Lane was considered by New Forest District Council’s planning committee last week.

Speaking in support of the scheme, planning agent Mary Power said that as a Premier League side it was standard practice for Saints to use analytical cameras to study footage from training sessions for players' improvement.

Saints Staplewood training ground in Marchwood
Saints Staplewood training ground in Marchwood

And she hit out at claims the technology might be used to watch nearby residents.

She said: “It is an abhorrent concept to the club that it would use the cameras for anything other than their technical purpose which is performance and analysis of players within site boundaries.

“Privacy and confidentiality is extremely important to the club as it is to residents, and both parties are aligned in this matter.”

However, the meeting heard Marchwood Parish Council had strongly opposed the plans.

Parish clerk Brendan Gibbs told the meeting that it shared neighbours' concerns that “imperfect” technology meant residents of Long Lane and nearby streets could be recorded in their homes and gardens.

He added: “We are concerned about the significant amount of CCTV and analytical cameras already on site and adding further to this would appear to be overbearing and visually intrusive.”

Andrew Kingwood also read a statement on behalf of John Hurst, an objector. He said: “A number of residents would like to object to the proposed installation of cameras as they are at a height and location that will give them the ability to be able to observe neighbours gardens.

"Camera 10 will dominate the skyline in its proposed location.”

The statement continued: “We appreciate that there is no intention for the club, per se, to view neighbouring properties. However, the use of privacy masts does not guarantee our privacy.”

Following questions from district councillors, Ms Power gave assurances that the analytical cameras would only be switched on during training sessions and they would be fixed on the orientation of the pitch they are surveying.

She explained privacy masts would be installed to insure neighbours could not be overlooked.

She added: “The club has no remote interest in looking at anything beyond its boundaries. Its only interest is at looking at the performance of players.”

Cllr Alan Glass proposed the application should be granted planning permission, and added: “I’m quite happy that the vision is of the pitch and the pitch alone.

"I think the Saints need all the support they can get – and although this worries people I think the technology is far in advance of what people expect.”

Cllr Anne Bellows added: “All the explanations we have had have been very thorough. It is clear that these cameras are fixed. They will not move.”

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