Sat, 09 Feb 2019
PLANNERS have given permission for a controversial new sports pavilion on the grounds of a Newbury school, despite protests from neighbours.
St Bartholomew’s School applied to demolish the existing facility and replace it with a new one.
However, the project prompted 30 letters of objection, meaning it had to be debated and decided by members of West Berkshire Council’s western area planning committee last Wednesday.
Nevertheless, a planning officers’ report recommended approval for the scheme, which was backed by Sports England.
Objectors claimed the development would cause noise and light pollution, parking problems and additional coach arrivals.
Local resident Steve Sanders told the meeting: “The entire area gets gridlocked. Their travel plan is unenforceable.”
Objector Alan Bradshaw added: “It’s an accident waiting to happen as it is.”
School headteacher Julia Mortimore said: “I want to stress the importance of this proposal.
“The current building has reached the end of its shelf life.
“We want to maintain the historic nature of it and keep it for sporting purposes.
“There’s no change of use or area and the new building would be lower in height.”
Bob Broadbridge, the chairman of Newbury Athletic Club, which also uses the facility, said: “The renewal of the pavilion is essential for its continued, safe use.
“Our intention is absolutely like-for-like.”
Ward member Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) pointed to the “significant number of objections – the first time I’ve seen that many for this sort of application”.
He added: “Nearby residents are subjected to the most appalling parking. I urge the committee to refuse the application.”
A planning officers’ report stated: “The existing clubhouse [to be demolished] is a surviving World War Two billet hut.
“It is recognised that no viable use can be found for the building.
“The development is considered to benefit the school by providing updated changing facilities and room for an extra lacrosse field.
“There is a wider benefit... by allowing Newbury Athletic Club to continue to use the site.”
Council development control officer Paul Goddard said: “This is an almost like-for-like application for an existing building.
“If we refuse it and it ended up at appeal, what would a planning inspector do? They would ask ‘where’s the additional harm to what’s already going on there?’.
“I have to recommend approval, therefore.”
The committee subsequently approved the application.