A Preston school faces losing funding for its new hockey pitch after a decision on its application was deferred for four weeks by councillors.Advertisement
Broughton Business and Enterprise College applied to convert an existing outdoor sports pitch into a specialist hockey field with floodlights.
Chris Morris, headteacher at the college, said nearly £500,000 had been raised to create the new outdoor pitch – including £250,000 in funding from the National Hockey Association which could now be in jeopardy.
But councillors voted to defer a decision after Garrison councillor Robert Greenhalgh raised a motion to defer the plans saying there were too many unanswered questions surrounding the application.
During a passionate debate at the Town Hall where the college and residents presented their views on the application a number of key issues arose which forced councillors to call for the delay.
Local resident Peter Nelson addressed the planning committee saying the college shared an access road onto Sandy Gate Lane with the Guild Wheel and the new hockey pitch would increase the chances of a collision between cyclists and cars.
He said: “We did a survey and found there were 100 people an hour on a Saturday, pedestrians and cyclists, using the section of road which enters the college and is also the Guild Wheel route.
“This is an accident waiting to happen. The road is narrow and there will be problems.”
Planning officers told councillors there was provision in the plans for traffic calming measures to be introduced to the access road.
Another resident Katie Taylor who lives on Sandy Gate Lane spoke at the meeting to say local residents felt strongly the pitch should not be given the go-ahead.
She said: “There is a real strength of feeling from the local community about this plan. The college should not be building it where it is. They should build it on the pitches further to the east, then we would not have these issues.”
Mr Morris had earlier addressed the planning committee saying they were seeking to increase participation in hockey.
He said: “We have been inspired by what we saw at the Olympics and recently the Commonwealth Games.
“The school has 900 pupils and we want to give them the best chance to play sport possible, and we are working with Springfields Hockey Club to create a facility that Preston can be proud of.”
Councillors questioned the school’s commitment to providing open access to all, given the location of the school.
“We expect to take some bookings from outside clubs,” said Mr Morris, “but the school pupils will use the pitch until 3pm each weekday when we can then see other clubs and Springfield using it.”
Local residents raised concerns about an increase in traffic to the college once the pitch was built, saying on open days there were too many cars to be accommodated on the site.
Mr Morris said: “We have nearly 100 staff who work at the college and they all park their cars. Once the school day ends they will be gone and we can easily fit in anyone visiting to play from further afield.”
Preston Rural East councillor Neil Cartwright spoke at the meeting on behalf of local residents.
He said the school should be forced to draw up a management plan for the hockey pitch and consult more with local residents on the plans.
Conditions within the application restrict the time the pitch could be used to from 9am to 9pm on weekdays, from 9am to 6pm on Saturdays and 10am to 12noon on Sundays.
Floodlights will be allowed on from dusk until 9pm on weekdays and dusk to 6pm on Saturdays. There will be no usage of the floodlights on Sundays.
Councillor Greenhalgh said in raising the motion for deferment the issues around the Guild Wheel route, a protected oak tree on the site and a management plan for the site must be addressed before the plans returned to the committee.
The plans will now be heard at the September planning committee meeting.
What do you think about the plans? Do you live in the area? Do you attend the college? Let us know in the comments below