We wrote these two pieces about the potential difficulties Tilbury FC could have faced from planning officers at Thurrock Council recommending refusal of their application to build a new stadium next to their existing ground at Chadfields: Some hints for Thurrock Council planning officers on what is and isn’t ‘intrusive’ and: Tilbury FC vs the planning officers. Well, as you can see from the graphic above, the good news is that councillors on the planning committee used their common sense and good judgement to approve the scheme: Green light for Tilbury FC’s new ground and 112 new homes. Because planning officers recommended refusal, the scheme still has to be rubber stamped at the next meeting of the planning committee but this is hopefully just a formality.

It’s not often we get to report good news, particularly when it involves Thurrock Council so in what is otherwise a grim start to 2021, it’s great to have some positive news. As we mentioned in a previous post, the proposed new stadium for Tilbury FC is about a lot more than somewhere to play for the football club – with an all weather pitch, it’s available for all of the football teams at all levels in the surrounding community. Also, other facilities at the new stadium would also be available for community use. Tilbury as a town probably has more than its fair share of problems – having a community facility like this would go some way to alleviating them.

With Grays Athletic FC still looking for a permanent home and East Thurrock United FC looking to relocate to a more suitable location, the green light for Tilbury FC’s new stadium will be a welcome boost for their plans. With Aveley FC now established in their new stadium at Parkside with an all weather surface, the benefits to the community are there for all to see. If Grays Athletic FC and East Thurrock FC can fulfil their ambitions for re-location, then Thurrock will have four stadiums that will be major assets to communities across the borough.

Why is this such good news? Firstly, non-league clubs by and large exist to serve and reflect their communities. They’re about a lot more than a first team and a reserve side. With women’s teams and an array of youth sides, they offer opportunities for participating in sport that otherwise would not be there. Secondly, the volunteers who keep the clubs running from the tea bar staff and lottery ticket sellers through to the turnstile operators and match programme compilers, form a bond with the club and supporters that provides a welcome degree of community cohesion. That’s something you cannot put a price on. Thirdly, in an age of austerity with local services and sports provision being pared back or cut, community focused non-league clubs fill the gaps. Not only that, people are more likely to relate better to their local football club when they see them doing something positive for the community than a local council that many have lost faith in.

So, it’s fingers crossed that the plans for Tilbury FC’s new stadium get rubber stamped at the next meeting of the planning committee, then it’s onwards and upwards from there:)

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