New setback for school's 3G sports pitch plans

Campaigners with placards protest against the plans
Hundreds of residents objected to the plans for the 3G pitch next to Park View School [LDRS]

A planning inspector has backed a decision to refuse permission for a new multi-use sports pitch.

Durham County Council’s planning committee refused the proposal to build a 3G pitch next to Park View School, Chester-le-Street, in October because it would lead to traffic and safety disruption, and cause noise and light issues.

A planning inspector reviewing the decision found that the "considerable harm" it would cause residents would not be outweighed by its benefits.

However, the local authority was found to have behaved “unreasonably” and has been ordered to pay a portion of the applicant’s costs as part of the appeal.

Hundreds of residents objected to the proposal as they feared the narrow roads around the site would cause traffic jams.

Lewis Pendleton, director of sport at Park View School, said there was “clear evidence" of the need for artificial pitches.

He added: “This now means our school will not have access to a 3G and our students will be forced out of Durham to train in Sunderland."

He said they would work on revised plans to provide 3G pitches in the area.

A general view of Park View School
The planning inspector said the benefits of the scheme did not outweigh the issues it would cause to residents [LDRS]

A report by planning inspector Geoff Underwood said the scheme would benefit pupils and the wider community, but the details around parking management were deemed “insufficient”.

Mr Underwood added: “The considerable harm that would arise to those living conditions would not be outweighed by the proposal’s benefits.”

Durham County Council quoted concerns about lights and noise from the development as part of the reason for refusing the application.

But the planning inspector said those could managed by certain conditions, which would impose specific limits on the site’s usage, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

On the costs decision, Mr Underwood said: “Although not specified, the applicant has clearly incurred the expense of engaging a professional planning consultant in support of the appeal which in part was related to contesting the noise, light and heritage reasons of the council’s decision.

“I find that the council behaved unreasonably, and caused the applicant to incur unnecessary or wasted expense in the appeal process.”

A spokesperson for Durham County Council, which is led by an alliance, said it would work with the applicant to agree costs "in line with the ruling".

“We are committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of residents and continue to progress with plans to transform and modernise County Durham’s sport and leisure offer," they added.

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