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Agenda item

21/00285/FUL - Land at Wainlode Lane, Norton

PROPOSAL:  Change of use of land to play area and the installation of retractable stop ball netting with 8m high posts to the existing Rugby pitch.

 

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION: Permit.

Minutes:

72.18        This was an application for a change of use of land to play area and the installation of retractable stop ball netting with eight metre high posts to the existing rugby pitch.

72.19        The Planning Officer advised that the site was within the village of Norton and lay to the south-west of Wainlode Lane and to the north/north-west of the village hall. It comprised of the existing playing field and rugby pitch and a children’s play area installed on an undeveloped part of the neighbouring residential development.   The application was submitted by the Parish Council for the change of use of land to children’s play area and for the erection of retractable netting to part of the boundary of rugby pitch. The netting would be two sections of 60 metres to the north west and north east boundaries.  The supporting steel posts would be eight metres high with the black mesh measuring 6.36 metres.  The play area land was secured via a Section 106 agreement attached to the residential development.  The Parish had entered into a joint use agreement with the County Council for the land such that the play area/equipment would be available at all times to the school. In turn, the Parish Council had land within the boundary of the village hall available for the school. Saved Local Plan policy RCN2 was for the provision of sports facilities. The proposal for stop ball netting would be ancillary to the existing sporting facilities on the site and enable the site to be safely used for rugby matches and coaching by preventing balls entering adjoining gardens. The play area was supported by RCN2 and one of the community objectives of the Down Hatherley, Norton and Twigworth Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) which was to encourage new and/or additional services and facilities which helped to meet identified needs of local people and improve their wellbeing. The proposal was supported in principle. The stop ball netting and posts would be visible in part from distant views but would be read in the context of the existing built form and recreation use. The netting would only be extended when required. The play area was located within the settlement boundary between existing residential development, and screened in part by boundary fences and hedges. It would therefore, have less than substantial harm in terms of landscape character. Objections had been received from the occupiers in the neighbouring development of Bramble Close with regard to the noise and disturbance from the play area. The play area bordered the front access drive and front amenity was separated by a boundary fence. There was already background noise from the school and the use of the playing field and rugby pitch. Given the land was identified in the Section 106 agreement to be used in connection with the school it was always likely there would be some noise disturbance from it.In terms of overlooking, the play area was to the front of the dwelling which was open to public views from Wainlode Lane. The stop ball netting would not impact light but by virtue of its height and close proximity it would appear as a prominent feature. However, the netting was retractable and would only be implemented when required. The rugby club was long established on the site which benefitted the local community as indicated by letters of support. The netting provided a solution to the potential conflict between the rugby pitch and neighbouring residents. It was considered the noise and disturbance to neighbouring properties was outweighed by the wider public benefits therefore the Officer recommendation was to permit. 

72.20        The Chair invited the Chair of Norton Parish Council to address the Committee. He explained that, in addition to the supporting documentation, submitted in response to the application, he would like to highlight the importance of both the Play Park and the Rugby Club to the Parish of Norton, especially in the current climate as the village continued to grow and people were spending more time in the local environment. For years, a drumbeat issue within the community was the lack of a play area for young children. This was especially important to the Parish as it was losing young families due to the lack of facilities. Three years ago, as a bi-product of the Neighbourhood Development Plan work, it was decided to pursue the development of a play area on Parish land which would also benefit the ever-popular village Primary School. A project team was created by the Parish Council, headed by the Clerk with Parishioners from community groups, who had worked tirelessly to raise community awareness of the project, refine plans to take into account local and physical constraints such as minimising noise pollution through consultation on the siting of equipment, navigating underground utility supplies, and securing funding. The layout had been given a lot of thought to ensure easy access to the inclusive equipment, as well as ensuring that the equipment for younger children was also close to a central location so that parents were still able to interact with each other. From its inception, the play area had been a standing agenda on Council Meetings and updates had been provided on its website. There had been tremendous support from within the Parish to help with establishing the area, and with fundraising, where several charity events were held and received a great turnout. Over the last period of national lockdown, the Parish Council had been receiving queries from parishioners as to when the play park would be opened as the children really needed some structured play in outdoor space. The fact that this Section 106 land was being put to use in this role to ease the pressure of the growing development within the Parish in such a way was widely supported throughout the Parish as could be seen by the number of positive comments received to this application. The Rugby Club had been a keystone of village life in recent times and was celebrating its tenth year of going from strength to strength. The Club provided community access to exercise and a social environment in which parishioners could come together to support the local team and meet each other. Since the erection of the adjacent development to the rugby pitch, the Club had worked tirelessly to ensure any damage to property was minimised through the erection of temporary netting. This had all been carried out through goodwill of the Club members and local parishioners. To lose such a valuable community asset through not being able to play games in the village would be catastrophic to village life. The strength of supporting parishioner comments on these projects demonstrated the value of community and the requirement to have such assets within it.

72.21        In proposing that the application be permitted, a Member queried why the application had been brought to Committee and the Development Manager explained that as the applicant was the Parish Council, and there had been an objection to the proposal, it was felt prudent to bring it to Members for a decision. The motion was seconded and, upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED           That the application be PERMITTED in accordance with the Officer recommendation

Supporting documents: