THE leader of Skipton Juniors says the football club is 'distraught' after losing out on what would have been its first home ground.

North Yorkshire Council last week refused plans to upgrade the former LMS sports pitch off Carleton New Road and also build a two-storey, 400-space car park on part of the site because it would result in the loss of a playing field.

But Ian Longden, chair of Skipton Juniors FC, which would have been given the upgraded pitch by its Skipton businessmen owners, Dalesway Construction, says it would have meant the club having its first permanent home, instead of having to lease pitches.

The club, which was formed in 2012 following the merger of the former Skipton Town Juniors and Skipton LMS clubs, has 27 teams, including nine girls teams, and between 350 and 400 active players.

It currently leases grass pitches from Sandylands, but with this year's wet weather, has been unable to play for the last 18 weekends, because the pitches have been water-logged.

Mr Longden, who is familiar with the former LMS pitch, and has used it for club matches up until recently, said it was always the best drained in the area and had it been available, it would have been unusable only six out of the last 18 weekends.

"Being given the pitch would have given us a physical home. We are distraught that this looks like it will not happen, and it does not fit with Sport England and it wanting to help sports clubs," he said.

North Yorkshire Council has refused the scheme because it would result in the loss of a playing pitch - which Mr Longden claims is a 'misnomer' because the pitch was always just one, although it may at time have been roped off to make two.

The planned 'improved grass pitch' would have been sited close to Skipton Cricket Club where the old LMS changing rooms are, with the new, two storey car park at the other end of the site, next to Engine Shed Lane.

He said: "It would not be a full sized pitch, but it would serve us very well. The car park would occupy a lot of ground, but if this planning permission does not go through, we will lose the lot."

Skipton town councillor, Brian McDaid added: "As someone who uses the facilities at Sandylands at least a couple of times a week, these proposed plans, supported by the public, would have provided a positive benefit to the centre, as well as the community itself.

"There has been an ongoing challenge in providing sufficient parking and public access to Sandylands Sports Centre, especially addressing the urgent need to provide a safe footway for pedestrians on Engine Shed Lane and these plans would have addressed these concerns.

"I have always been of the view that when it comes to the planning application process, like any process that will potentially impact the public and the community, it needs to be transparent to everyone and managed consistently."

Sport England in its submission to the council said because of the failure of Dalesway Construction to show compliance with its playing fields policy and of the National Planning Policy Framework, it maintains its objection to the planning application, made in 2021. It also comments on confusion over the plans, and whether the pitch is to be a 3G pitch, or a natural turf one.