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Fulwood Academy floodlights: Residents win reprieve as councillors reject sports pitch plans

Posted on - 3rd November, 2014 - 8:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Cadley, Fulwood, Greyfriars, News, Schools
The Fulwood Academy pitch in process of being built

The Fulwood Academy pitch in process of being built

Residents near Fulwood Academy closed their curtains with a sigh of relief after councillors voted not to allow the school to erect floodlights over sports pitches.

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The Academy, on Black Bull Lane, had applied for permission to install eight lights to allow use of the pitches into the evenings during winter months.

Hundreds of nearby residents objected and led a vocal campaign against the school’s proposals.

Mrs Singleton, who lives on Garstang Croft which borders the school, made an emotive statement to the city council’s planning committee.

She said: “We’ve got one elderly lady who now has to live in the front of her house only because of the noise from the pitches.

“The school claims it is listening to residents, but it isn’t. We’ve complained but it falls on deaf ears.

“They said this was a facility for the local community, but you’ve got teams from Bamber Bridge coming to play there. There are plenty of other pitches in the city for them to play on.

“I’ve seen kids urinating in public, we’ve seen all sorts happening on these pitches. The lights will force residents to install black out blinds and I know people who make sure they are out of their houses while matches are being played.”

Her speech was met with loud applause and cheers from a packed public gallery.

There was controversy as it was revealed Preston City Council’s head of sports and leisure Jimmy Khan was said to have over-stepped his capacity in the role.

A letter written in support of the application appeared to show Mr Khan pledging city council support for the plans – when in fact it was his own personal support.

Planning officers said the letter had been withdrawn, but a second letter had been received appearing to show support for the plans from the council itself but was judged to be a fake.

Greyfriars councillor Damien Moore laid into the planning system during a speech to the planning committee.

He said: “We need to take a serious look at how responses to plans are given by this council. And why these letters, although withdrawn and fakes, are still widely available on the council website.

“On the application itself, you can see by the strength of feeling from the number of residents who have objected to these plans just how unwelcome these lights will be in the local area.”

Catherine Pickup, a consultant acting on behalf of the Academy, spoke in support of the application.

She said: “I acknowledge there has been a lot of ill feeling from the local residents towards the school. None of the current staff were there when this process began.

“We want to create a facility that enables local teams and pupils to continue training and playing into the winter months.

“When you look at the levels of lux from the lights emitted out towards local properties it is at twilight level.”

This drew scorn from one councillor on the committee, Councillor Ortega-Thompson, who represents Preston Rural North, said: “It might only be twilight. But I don’t think I’d want to see twilight extended until 9pm every weeknight.”

Mrs Pickup responded by showing computer graphics which simulated the light from the pitches in the promixmity to the houses and said: “Can you see your houses in that picture. No, you can’t.”

During a rowdy discussion on the plans the planning committee voted 8 to 5 in favour of refusing the floodlights – overturning the council officers recommendation to approve them.

They said it would have a detrimental impact on the local residents and surrounding area.

Do you live nearby? Do your children attend the school? What do you think of the decision? Let us know in the comments below

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