Agenda item - BH2019/02080 - St Andrews CE Primary School, Belfast Street, Hove BN3 3YT - Full Planning

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Agenda item

BH2019/02080 - St Andrews CE Primary School, Belfast Street, Hove BN3 3YT - Full Planning

Minutes:

1.    The Planning Manager introduced the report.

 

Speakers

 

2.    Natalie O’Connell addressed the committee on behalf of objectors and stated they felt the report lacked sound advice and the proposal was not viable: the site was too small and Sport England did not support the scheme; traffic concerns over one-way system not being observed; light spill and the effect on bio-diversity; noise and disturbance as the proposals were close to homes and would be ongoing into the evening up till 9pm; and the floodlighting effects on the neighbouring residents. The committee were asked to refuse the application.

 

Questions for speaker

 

3.    Councillor Childs was informed that the residents objected to both the lights and the late hours if use. It was noted that the objectors did not feel the school had interacted with residents on the proposals.

 

4.    Councillor Yates was informed that the outside space was currently used every day and that clubs used the space after school and sometimes in the evenings and weekends.

 

5.    Councillor Janio was informed that the speaker lived 1m away from the site and they had not contacted any other schools or residents near those schools.

 

6.    A speech from the Ward Councillor Wilkinson was read out to the committee: As a Councillor in the ward that this application lies within, I know this site well. I believe that this development would have a material impact on and adversely affect the highway safety and the convenience of road users.

 

The proposal raises some traffic safety concerns: The school car park entrance is narrow and in an awkward location in the corner of the street with the busy alleyway to Tesco in constant use by pedestrians. The proposal will see an increase in the flow of traffic.

 

Within the Brighton and Hove Local Plan, section TR7 relating to Safe Development states that planning permission will be granted for developments that do not increase the danger to users of adjacent pavements, cycle routes and roads. Increased hours of use of site will only contribute to any risk.

 

It will not be safe to have cars waiting in the narrow street as the cars try to arrive and depart through the very awkwardly placed entrance. There is a very high volume of pedestrians - many walk in the road, cyclists routinely cycle  up the street.

 

In addition, like much of Central Hove the area around the school has an increasing parking problem. This proposed development will generate traffic in a residential street struggling for parking space and thereby increase pressure on existing car parking. 

 

The submitted travel plan makes no mention of how the increase in traffic will be mitigated. Belfast St is a quiet road. With players, coaches, referees and spectators using the facility, and considering that many will be youths dropped off by parents, there will be a huge increase in additional vehicles every hour using the road. This is a fundamental change to the character of this quiet residential area, and represents increased risk to the many children and adults who use it as pedestrians or cyclists.

                                                                                                            

Then we have the Effect of the development on the character of the neighbourhood. I believe the proposed development would not make a positive contribution towards the underlying character of this Victorian residential area and would certainly not relate well to the existing development within the surrounding area. Residents have rightly expressed concerns that the floodlights are obtrusive and not in line with the character of the neighbourhood. They would be 10m high and would be seen from far around, whilst towering tower higher than the houses. 

 

In addition, there are already an increasing number of artificial pitches locally, nine in total. All are on sites that are more conducive in terms of a neighbourhood impact.

 

I also believe that there will be an Adverse effect on the residential amenity of neighbours. There will undoubtedly by increased noise due to the comings and goings of visitors and vehicles. This will bring noise, pollution and disturbance to the neighbours. Indeed, this is acknowledged in the officer report.

 

Whilst the officer report states the proposed facility is located in “close” proximity to residential properties, in reality it is in immediate proximity, with homes adjoining the football pitch site and only a garden wall dividing them. The bedrooms of several flats on properties overlook the proposed development. These issues will be particularly acute for these residents. The site is nested within a high density of residential homes and I believe all the surrounding streets would all be affected by noise and light pollution. The noise levels from a football pitch will be excessive and unacceptable. Local resident are rightly anxious of the impact on the peace and living quality of their neighbourhood which has occupants with young children and elderly residents who have a right not to be disturbed by shouting and whistles and noisy departures up until 9pm every week evening and on weekends. No mention has been given in the planning submission, and no condition has been proposed in the planning officer’s report, of how noise nuisance will be prevented. There has been no noise impact study carried out or proposed to be required. This development proposes a huge change to the activities and hours of operation of the site. Currently, out of school hours, the site is unused and completely quiet

I also cannot see how there would not be light pollution into the houses directly next to the school, which would be an additional disturbance. The floodlights remain disproportionately higher than the houses. This will impact in the darker months from as early as 4pm and for residents with young children at bedtime.

 

Regarding Ecology issues: The loss of the field would deprive the area of a rare green space. One of the few in Central Hove and the loss of this natural space will impact wildlife, nesting birds and bats. I am also particularly concerned by the ecology consultation that supports the fact there are nesting birds in the trees directly next to the proposed pitch and that there are also bats, that will be impacted by the light and noise. The proposal says it’s “unlikely to have an impact on protected species” whereas the ecological report actually says; “light spill from the proposed flood lights should avoid vegetation to the southern and eastern boundaries.”

 

Summary: In summary committee, I am objecting to this application on a number of material grounds. Improving sports facilities is something we should always be encouraging. However, the proposal is extremely close to residential properties. 10m high floodlights being particularly out of character with the surrounding area in close proximity to residential properties, and noise into the late evening and all weekend will materially affect resident’s amenity.

 

No identified need for the facilities has been shown in any official documents and there are a number of similar facilities in the area.Although generally supportive of new sports facilities I suggest the harm to the character of the area and impact on neighbouring properties outweigh the benefits of the scheme. Whist objecting to the development I believe that a change to the operating times may alleviate some concerns in relation to the impact on residents and the neighbourhood.’

 

7.    The Head of St Andrews School, Sophie Thomas, addressed the committee stated that the application was founded on a key problem at the school: the school field becomes unusable when it rains. The school needs to deliver learning in a safe space and an all year round pitch would do this. A large space is needed for the student’s health and wellbeing, which is affected when the field is not available. An all weather surface is needed and would create community opportunities. The school already allow the 4 surrounding streets to use the school car park and the pitch would be for the community as a multi-purpose area.

 

Questions for speaker

 

8.    Councillor Ebel was informed that there was a hope for more cycling as there was cycle storage at the site.

 

9.    Councillor Childs was informed that there would be adequate parking for the out of hours use by the community, and that changing facilities would be available in the school building – for youth users only. Funding has not been agreed as planning permission is needed first. The pitch will be let in the evenings to create an income for the school, but not looking at late evening as this would be mostly used for youth groups. The Head of School is happy to talk to the community.

 

10.Councillor Yates was informed that the proposed floodlights were to support the after school clubs, especially in the winter. The fencing and floodlights were requested by sports providers.

 

11.Councillor Shanks was informed that the school already had a playground and that governors and previous head of school had looked at many schemes and this seemed the best option. It was noted that two think tanks had taken place with parents, before the pandemic, and a leaflet had been circulated in April 2019. A number of emails have been exchanged with the community on the matter of an all-weather pitch and the governors have been very responsive to enquires. The school feels it has engaged with the community and are open to residents.

 

12.Councillor Henry was informed that Sport England were looking at a hybrid pitch last year, however, the pandemic put this on hold. It was noted that Sports England required the school to obtain planning permission before supporting the scheme.

 

13.Councillor Theobald was informed that the car park is already used for community events throughout the year such as markets and cinema. This will not be affected by the all-weather pitch.

 

14.Councillor Fishleigh was informed that the income stream created by lettings was needed to cover the maintenance of the pitch. It was noted that artificial grass was not good enough for the pitch. The school did not feel a lack of consultation with the residents as all emails have been responded to.

 

15.The Planning manager informed the committee that noise mitigation would be implemented by condition and a limitation plan will be submitted and the impact will be managed.

 

Questions for officers

 

16.Councillor Henry was informed that the pitch would be 3G with a 40mm pile as agreed with Sports England.

 

17.Councillor Childs was informed that the hours were suggested by the school and that environmental health had no objections. It was noted that the evenings would be used by youth groups, so it was unlikely to last till 9pm.

 

18.Councillor Janio was informed that no comparisons had been made with the new floodlights at Blatchington Mill school nearby.

 

Debate

 

19.Councillor Fishleigh expressed concerns that the all weather pitch would be very noisy for residents, who already state they can hear the students through double glazing. The finish time of 9pm was considered too late and time constraints should be required.

 

20.The Planning manager stated that Environmental Health team have raised no issues and the hours are not found to be unreasonable.

 

21.Councillor Henry noted the school was in an urban area with a dense population and expressed concerns at the impact of the proposed lights and finish time.

 

22.Councillor Theobald considered an earlier finish time of 8pm would be preferable. The area around the school was a busy location with Tesco supermarket nearby. The proposal will upgrade sports provision by using the all weather pitch by children who need sport. Any noise issues can be reported.

 

23.Councillor Janio noted that the scheme at Blatchington Mill school had had a negative impact on the residents and considered the proposed floodlighting and noise a major issue. The councillor considered an earlier finish time of 7pm or 8pm would be preferable.

 

24.Councillor Yates, although they support the use by the community, they expressed concerns regarding the fundamental change of use to the site and the impact on neighbours. The councillor did not support the application.

 

25.Councillor Shanks expressed concerns relating to artificial grass and that the school needed the income. The councillor did not support the application.

 

26.Councillor Childs considered the all weather pitch to be a positive for the school and they understood the need for income generation. The councillor supported the application but felt the hours could be reduced to 7pm.

 

27.Councillor Fishleigh stated they were against the application.

 

28.Councillor Ebel considered that activity for children should be encouraged and they understood that a 9pm finish would help the income for the school. The councillor felt that activities may not last until 9pm every night and supported the application.

 

29.Councillor Littman considered the all weather pitch to be good for the school, however they were opposed to the removal of the existing grass and expressed concerns at the potential noise and the impact of the proposed lighting on the neighbours.

 

30.Councillor Janio proposed an amendment to condition 3 of reducing the hours to 7.30am to 7pm (weekdays) and 10am to 6pm (weekends and bank holidays). The proposal was seconded by Councillor Littman.

 

31.A vote was taken, and the committee agreed to accept the motion by 7 to 3.

 

32.A vote was taken, and the amended planning permission was granted by 8 to 1, with 1 abstention.

 

33.RESOLVED: That the Committee has taken into consideration and agrees with the reasons for the recommendation set out in the report and resolves to GRANT planning permission subject to the Conditions, as amended, and Informatives in the report.

Supporting documents:

 


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