We live next to football stadium – developers want to knock it down & replace it with 88 newbuilds… we’re fighting back


LOCALS fear their beloved football club is set to be demolished and replaced with 88 new build homes, tearing the heart from the community.

Residents say they want Hastings United FC to stay put despite plans being approved for a new purpose-built stadium five miles away.


New homes could eventually be built on the club’s pitchCredit: Chris Eades
Gina Ellis said she thought the club should stay where it is


Gina Ellis said she thought the club should stay where it isCredit: Chris Eades
Kirsty Watson said she does not want to see new homes built on the club's former ground


Kirsty Watson said she does not want to see new homes built on the club’s former groundCredit: Chris Eades
Ryan Brunton said he thought the club should be refurbished


Ryan Brunton said he thought the club should be refurbishedCredit: Chris Eades

That would clear the way for 88 new homes to be built on the site of the empty ground at Pilot Field.

Locals say the semi-professional club should stay exactly where it is and is the heartbeat of their vibrant community.

Gina Ellis, 36, whose husband used to play for Hastings Utd, said: “I think it should stay exactly where it is.

“We do have problems on match days with increased traffic, inconsiderate parking and litter but they aren’t too bad.

Mrs Ellis, an insurance worker, said: “It could be so much worse and generally the club is a pretty good neighbour. People love going there.”

Kirsty Watson, 29, a mother-of-one, and: “The club does cause increased traffic and some parking problems but it is only around once a fortnight and its not extreme in any way.

“The club is also an amenity for people who live here and has facilities which are used by the children and teenagers and to lose that would take something away from the area.”

She added: “Also it doesn’t make sense building dozens of new houses in that area when most of them won’t be affordable to local people.

“It would impact badly on local schools which are already stretched, drainage and infrastructure.

“The increase in traffic from nearly a 100 houses would be huge and the area already can’t cope with the amount of traffic coming through here anyway.”

The first football match to take place at the ground was between Rock-a-Nore and Chichester in 1920 with the visitors winning in front of a crowd of more than 1,000.

The first football match to take place was between Rock-a-Nore and Chichester in 1920 with the visitors winning in front of a crowd of more than 1,000.

Stands – including a main stand with a capacity of 800 – have been erected over the years to keep supporters dry and secure.

The known recorded record attendance for football at the Pilot Field is 12,527, when Hastings United drew 3-3 against Norwich City in the 1953-54 FA Cup third round tie.

Ryan Brunton, 29, a lorry driver, said: “It has always been here. I can’t see why they can’t improve the stadium there instead of moving. It doesn’t seem right to transplant a community asset to a completely different location.”

Tony Billings, 75, a retired deputy head teacher and former maths teacher, said: “We do have usual problems on match days.

“Cars can block grass verges, litter gets thrown n the ground and occasionally people get their drives blocked but all in all it is not too bad.

“My father used to go and watch the football every week and it has been part of the community for as a long as I can remember.

“Give me the football ground any day. I know we need new houses and I’m not against new housing developments – there have been two new ones very near by just recently – but this site is definitely not the right setting for it.

“There is a road that is already busy and the infrastructure round here just wouldn’t be able to take it.”

Ruth Martin, 68, said: “The football club is at the heart of the community. I wouldn’t like to see it go or be replaced by housing. It’s a quiet area and while there is disruption on match days we love living here.”

In June the council’s full cabinet refused to support the club’s plans to move from Pilot Field to the Tilekiln site.

A key section of the cabinet report read: “In addition to the lack of a viable business plan, and no agreement having been reached on a profit-sharing mechanism, there has been little or no satisfactory consultation with local residents in the areas affected, and insufficient recognition of the true meaning of the provision of community facilities.

“There remains concern that there would be a funding deficit estimated to be in the region of £2m.”

A council spokesperson said to The Sun: “The council agreed at Full Council in July that the plan for Hastings United Football Club to move to a new facility at Tile Kiln was nonviable for several reasons.

“We are pleased that the club is now in new, local, ownership, and we are already enjoying a new open relationship with them.

“Officers, the cabinet lead for leisure, ward councillors and local residents have been invited to the Pilot Field ground to discuss opportunities for supporting the club and much loved ground in alternative ways.”

A spokesman for Hastings United FC said: “We were disappointed not to receive the support of the council for the scheme in the summer.

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“However the club is now working with the local authority to ensure the local community have the facilities they deserve.”

The club hosted its first match more than 100 years ago


The club hosted its first match more than 100 years agoCredit: Chris Eades
The entrance to the historic club


The entrance to the historic clubCredit: Chris Eades

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