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Public pose questions to Thatcham councillors over Henwick Worthy playing field planning application

The public have posed questions to Thatcham councillors over the current status of the Henwick playing ground application in a full council meeting.

The application recently faced objection from Sports England where the plans were branded "poor" and not in "accord with any of the exceptions to Sport England’s Playing Fields Policy.”

The application, made in August this year, proposed to refurbish and enlarge the existing tennis courts on the ground to provide an artificial half pitch.

Henwick Worthy Field - Tennis Courts (51510136)
Henwick Worthy Field - Tennis Courts (51510136)

There are also plans for the construction of a new full sized, artificial pitch to replace an existing grass pitch on the grounds.

The new pitches have been proposed for multiple sports uses, including for tennis, netball, rugby, hockey and football.

One resident asked the chamber whether the hockey club is entitled to make the application, along with questions over the response from Sports England.

Chairman of planning and highways, Simon Pike (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said that the hockey club made the application on the grounds that it would be “funding the construction of the half hockey pitch.”

He added: “At the time that planning and highways committee considered this planning application, Sport England had only submitted an acknowledgement.”

He added that Sports England’s suggestion of a new “masterplan” for site “seems to be a good way forward.”

A resident posed a question on the matter of a late response to the planning application. He asked: “Given the application was validated by the West Berkshire Council planning department on August 5, do councillors consider that considering the application at a meeting 12 days later gave residents sufficient time to become aware of the application and make representations to the planning and highways working party?"

Mr Pike said: “We understand that it is difficult for residents to find planning applications on the planning portal of West Berkshire Council.

“We have therefore decided to add a function to the town council website that marks the location of current planning applications on a map, and enables residents to be notified of new applications within Thatcham.”

This function is expected to go live within a few weeks.

The meeting concluded with a request for councillors and residents to meet and discuss the details of Sports England’s objection in further detail to which Mr Pike said: “I would be happy to, and believe that other ward councillors would too.”

The council invited residents to join them on October 19 to discuss the matter further in a planning and highways committee.

To view the planning application, entre 21/01790/FUL into West Berkshire councils online planning portal.

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