THE new training base for Brighton and Hove Albion was recognised at an awards ceremony to celebrate exceptional examples of planning in the South East.

The development team behind the the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre in Lancing won the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) South East top award for Excellence in Planning for Community and Well-being.

The £32 million centre boasts a ‘category one status’ under the Premier League’s new Elite Players Performance Plan and ranks alongside any of the training grounds built by the biggest Premier League clubs.

Paul Barber, chief executive at Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, described the venue as ‘one of the finest football training and academy facilities anywhere in the world.’

The achievement was the result of a successful working relationship between the project team and Adur District Council, who were also recognised by RTPI South East.

Peter Rainier, Principal Director of Planning at DMH Stallard, said: "We’ve been working with the football club on the planning side ever since the move from the Withdean, so to see this incredible facility up and running is a very proud moment for me.

"The Elite Football Performance Centre is everything a professional footballer needs. Indoor and outdoor training pitches and state-of-the-art medical and gymnasium facilities provide the perfect environment for developing the players of today and emerging stars of tomorrow."

At the awards, Councillor Brian Boggis, Executive Member for Regeneration at Adur District Council, said: "This award demonstrates that by working together, the council’s planning team and the developers have been able to deliver superb facilities that are enhancing our community.

"It’s provided a unique opportunity for Lancing not only to make a positive impact on the community’s health and wellbeing, but to also offer regenerative benefits to the local economy.

"The centre is making a major contribution in the community by giving local people, young and old, access to an internationally recognised venue."

Disability sports clubs and groups use the community pitch on a weekly basis, with other bespoke activities regularly scheduled to support people with specific disabilities.