A FORMER football club director has hit out at plans to allow the club’s former ground to be sold for housing.

Councillors on Darlington’s planning committee have approved a project to build 146 homes on the former Feethams football ground.

The ground was Darlington Football Club’s home for 120 years until former chairman George Reynolds built a 25,000 all-seater stadium in Neasham Road.

Councillor Peter Freitag, whose ward covers Feethams and also sits on the planning committee, has hit out at the plans.

Coun Freitag was the only one to vote against the application when it went before the planning committee, although he did so because of possible flooding problems.

He said this week: “At one time, the place used to be very busy with five-a-side football, but how many people go to watch cricket?

“I would like it to be used as a sports ground.”

Coun Freitag, a former vice-president of the Quakers, added: “There is a real shortage of sporting facilities in the town.

“Housing has been developed on sports fields all over the place. The town is full of youngsters looking for something to do on Saturdays and Sundays.

“The council always says there is enough, but the council is expert at self-congratulating, rather than selfreforming.”

Darlington Cricket Club, which rents the ground on a long-term lease from The Feethams Cricket Field Trust, intends to use the money to revamp the ground and build a cricket academy.

A council spokesperson said: “There are clear national and local planning policies which state that when developments are allowed on playing pitches, those facilities must be replaced.

“Sport England is always careful to ensure that is the case. With the Feethams development, replacement facilities had already been provided at the new stadium in Neasham Road.

“The council is aware of issues around having the right kind of sports facilities, available at the right times in some areas, which it wants to address.

“Local people, sports clubs and community groups have been consulted on this and their comments have been used in the council’s action plans, aimed at improving facilities and access to them.

“These action plans also provide evidence which could be used to help secure funding for sports facilities in the future.

“Darlington has just secured £57m to rebuild or renew three secondary schools, which will include sporting facilities available for community use.”