CAMPAIGNERS fighting Gary Neville’s proposals to turn Stretford green belt land into training pitches have threatened legal action if the plans are approved.

The former United star is seeking permission from Trafford Council to develop flooded land at Turn Moss Playing Fields.

Under the proposals, three new pitches would be leased to the proposed University Academy UA 92 and Salford City FC, the club co-owned by the former footballer.

However, Friends of Turn Moss campaign group say the plans offer little community benefit and said a legal challenge will follow if they are approved.

Campaign chairman Simon Howarth said Trafford Council is both applicant and deciding planning authority, but it does not appear to be “acting impartially.”

He added: “The authority failed to properly consult local people on the plans before submitting the application.”

Co-chairman Dr Nigel Woodcock said: “The community so galvanised and confidence is high for a positive outcome.

“We are developing far better plans for Turn Moss than the shambles offered up so far.”

Labour’s Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, publicly backed the campaign group’s concerns.

In a letter submitted to Trafford Council, Ms Green stated that the Turn Moss plans had been met with “considerable hostility”.

She said: “Regrettably, this has been exacerbated by the way the proposals have been put forward and the insufficient attention to provide community benefit, with the gains largely felt to benefit the  owners of Salford City FC.

“While I understand and welcome the opportunities which UA92 can offer our young people,  there appears to be insufficient public benefit to local residents. ”

Ms Green called for the plans to be withdrawn, adding that any new proposals to upgrade the area must be “fully consulted on with the support of local residents”.

A recent twist has now seen the council extend its public consultation period by a month after more than 1,600 people responded to the controversial plans.

The consultation will now close on Wednesday, April 18, and the council’s planning committee will discuss the proposal on May 17.

A Trafford Council spokesman said an application for planning permission would be considered in due course as part of the normal procedure.

“There is a separation between the council acting in its capacity as the planning authority and its role as applicant to ensure that there is no conflict of interest,” added the spokesman.

“The position in this regard was accepted by the chairman of the Friends of Turn Moss when he met with council officers last week.

“The council is resolute in delivering its ambitions for Stretford and Old Trafford and the plans, if approved, will positively enhance and secure the future of Turn Moss as an open, green and recreational for existing and future generations.”

A planning authority spokesman said the council had received representation from a solicitor, on behalf of an objector,  regarding the Turn Moss proposals.

“This letter does not seek to bring legal proceedings,” added the spokesman.

“It is not possible to legally challenge a planning application before a decision has been made by a planning committee, and leave to seek a judicial review of a decision can only be granted on application to the courts.”

The plans for Turn Moss, part of Trafford Council’s Stretford Masterplan, would see a floodlit all-weather pitch created in a fenced area, alongside two grass pitches, a cafe and changing facilities.  

In addition, car parking would be increased by 23 spaces along with a walkway and lighting added to an access road.

According to the council, the proposals were for land which is currently unusable “due to flooding” and would leave the site with “17 unusable pitches”.