PLANS to expand a Southampton football club have been withdrawn.

It comes after a row broke out between locals as to whether Bush Hill FC should build a screen fence with gates around their pitch at Mansel Park.

But, just hours before a meeting was due to be held for residents to discuss their thoughts on the proposals, the applicant pulled the plans.

The club said they applied for the fencing to progress to the next stage of the Football Association’s Hampshire League, which notes they would need to upgrade their ground.

This would include “fully enclosing the playing areas, provide safe standing and seating for spectators”.

Currently, the club has a 1.1m perimeter metal-pole barrier – which permission for was gained in 2013 – to outline the pitch area.

But managers wanted to raise this to a 2.4m solid fence.

The land is owned by Southampton City Council and leased to the club.

The secretary of Southampton Commons and Parks Protection Society (SCAPPS) Graham Linecar was one of the objectors to the application.

He said: “SCAPPS objects strongly to the visual impact of a 2.4m high solid metal fence, whatever colour it is painted, in so prominent a location.

“SCAPPS objects strongly to the implicit intention that one part of a public park be taken out of general use and dedicated for sole use of one recreational activity.

“SCAPPS acknowledges that Bush Hill Football Club has a valued role in the local community, and is a successful competitor in local and regional club football.

“The pitch used by the club is however in a public park, a park which the public may expect to use for general recreation.

“If the club has grown and developed to the point where it requires its own dedicated ground then the time has come for it to seek an appropriate site and opportunity elsewhere, not within a public park, and SCAPPS wishes the club well in that search.”

The planning application was submitted by Eugene McManus, manager of Bush Hill FC.

Despite the withdrawal of the plans, the meeting with residents and local councillors was still due to be held last night (April 30).