A coastal football ground which has been "unviable for years" will be torn down to make way for 97 houses.

Great Yarmouth councillors gave the go ahead at a a development control committee meeting on December 9 for Pleasure and Leisure Limited, run by landowners the Jones family, to tear down Gorleston Football Club's Emerald Park and build houses instead.

The site is near to the James Paget Hospital and the South Bradwell Urban Expansion. Access to the new site, which will include a mixture of one and two-bed flats and three and four-bed houses, would be from Woodfarm Lane.

According to council officers, the site is "sustainable" and "consistent with the emergent local plan".

But the sticking point was what would happen to Gorleston Football Club if they lost their training ground.

Planning officer Gordon Sutherland said the applicant was under the impression they did not have to provide a new facility because there is a surplus of adult and junior training grounds as far into the future as 2030.

"However", Mr Sutherland said, "we've taken the view that any future pitch should be the same if not better than the one Gorleston FC is currently losing".

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Gorleston FC's new ground at the East Norfolk Sixth Form CollegeGorleston FC's new ground at the East Norfolk Sixth Form College (Image: East Coast College Sixth Form)

As a result, the "key consequence" is that "the applicant is proposing to help fund a new pitch at East Norfolk Sixth Form College (EN)."

Mr Sutherland said: "The developer will give £400,000 towards the new fully-lit, artificial 3G pitch as a way of bridging any gap in funding at EN.

"Public Sport England weren't happy about the loss of the site initially, but have said they will release a £1m grant they have secured to go towards the new site, which was granted permission in January 2020, if this goes ahead."

Karen Price, speaking on behalf of Albert Jones and his family, guaranteed that development at the old grounds wouldn't start until development on the new pitch began.

However, she added that there would be no affordable housing at the development because of "issues with deliverability".

Objector Matthew Smith said the fact there were "zero affordable houses" was concerning, and that there was no additional street lighting being proposed.

Trevor Wainwright, Labour, said he agreed that the Magdalen Estate was "incredibly dark", but said that Gorleston Football club was "unviable, and has been for years".

He said: "If nothing happens to that site it will just fall into disrepair."

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Emerald Park, the current home of Gorleston FCEmerald Park, the current home of Gorleston FC (Image: Archant Norfolk © 2016)