The man at the head of a campaign group preparing to fight an impending planning application for Horsham Football Club’s new ground claims he has more backing than the club has supporters.
Richard Duncan, 77, says residents of the historic Denne Park House, and Tower Hill and Salisbury Road areas of Horsham are seeking to employ specialist advisers as plans for the new site near Hop Oast pick up pace.
Horsham FC chief executive John Lines told the County Times last week that a series of consultations will take place this month to share plans with the public.
It is expected an application will be submitted at the end of March or beginning of April.
But while Mr Duncan wholeheartedly supports a new ground for Horsham FC, he strongly believes the current site is not appropriate.
He has voiced fears of traffic and ecological damage on behalf of his consortium of residents - concerns which he claims have not changed since these plans were first mooted back in 2002.
“Our consortium of residents is more than the average number of Horsham FC supporters,” said Mr Duncan, who has lived in the area for around 25 years.
“We are not NIMBYs.
“What we call Worthing Road is over used and unfit for purpose. There are too many narrow bends on that road.
“We’ve had several fatalities on a particular corner.”
Campaigners are also fearful of the detrimental effect construction could have on nature.
Mr Duncan said the surrounding area - which is centuries old - is home to newts, door mice, badgers, bats and even an illusive albino deer.
He added: “We’re seen as a bunch of wealthy people who obviously aren’t interested in football. We’re subject to contempt and surely don’t understand youth - a bunch of NIMBYs. That’s not the case.”
District and parish councillors will be invited to attend presentation evenings, along with local residents to the Hop Oast site where the club plan to build their new ground, and the Holbrook Club where some new housing will be built as part of the development.
This will be the first opportunity for interested parties to have a detailed look into Horsham FC’s ground plans and discuss any concerns with club officials, who stress they are keen to involve the local public as much as possible.
The chief executive said: “I must stress this is very much being done on an informal basis, we have sent out invitations to 52 local and district councillors and we’re hoping most will be able to attend.”
Horsham Football Club moved out of Queen Street, their home of more than 100 years, in 2008 and had planning permission to build their new home on land owned at the Holbrook Club refused. After playing home matches down at Worthing FC for a year they began groundsharing with neighbours Horsham YMCA at the start of the 2009/10 season, and are currently in their fourth year at Gorings Mead.