Cllr Karen Chilvers' letter regarding this issue appeared in today's Gazette (12th November). The full, original version of this letter is below:
Such a very one-sided view of the Conservatives' refusal of planning permission for a Multi Use Games Area at Sawyers Hall College appeared in the Gazette (5th November) that the balance has to be sensibly redressed.
Opposition councillors were particularly surprised to see this rejected as it was fully supported by the Conservative Mayor of Brentwood, Cllr Dudley Payne, who sent a statement, read out in support of the application.
Liberal Democrats have a strong record of standing up for the Green Belt, but a facility which would encourage young people to participate in sport is certainly not harmful to the green belt and, in our view, would be welcomed by the many residents who tell us there is nothing for their children to do. The application complied with all the relevant policies and was, therefore, recommended for approval.
Specifically, it was considered that the proposed development of a sports pitch would not have an unacceptable detrimental impact on enjoyment of the countryside, would not have resulted in the permanent loss of the best or most versatile agricultural land, would not have an unacceptable detrimental impact on a SSSI, a County Wildlife Site or an area of special landscape and would not have required unacceptably prominent ancillary facilities.
Yes, it is appreciated that fencing and floodlighting would be required but not to an unacceptable level. The site benefits from existing tree screening and the fence constituted netting, not a palisade fence.
It's a shame that the Conservatives did not apply the same attitude to the retrospective application for two classrooms on the Green Belt (recommended for refusal and approved by them) when we were considering an application for Woodlands School.
Cllr Karen Chilvers
Liberal Democrat Councillor, Brentwood West
Our original article appeared on this site on 4th November 2008:
Brentwood's Liberal Democrats are astonished that the majority of Conservatives voted against a Multi Use Games Area at Sawyers Hall College and, therefore, refused a new sports facility for Brentwood.
The facility would have seen the area benefit from a modern outdoor multi-sports facility that could be used in all weathers and, as well as the Liberal Democrat group, attracted the support of Sports England and the Conservative Mayor of Brentwood, Cllr Dudley Payne, who sent a statement, read out in support of the application.
The application was recommended for approval by officers, on the basis that:
• it would be partly screened by existing mature trees
• the lighting would have been shielded from residents
• it would not harm the openness of the Green Belt nor local visual amenity
• it complies with policy GB22 and considered an appropriate location for a sports facility
Sawyers Hall College had also sought to ensure that residents would be minimally affected by the new facility with floodlights and noise being as unobtrusive as possible.
Cllr Ross Carter, ward member for Brentwood North, said:
"This is very disappointing news and I am surprised that this application was refused on such contentious grounds. Liberal Democrats have a strong record of standing up for the Green Belt, but a facility which would encourage young people to participate in sport is certainly not harmful to the green belt and complied with all the relevant policies.
"When I speak to residents I am often asked why there is little for our young people to do in the evenings and this would have provided a much needed community facility."