Pitches housing turned down against professional advice, inquiry told

Pitches housing turned down against professional advice, inquiry told

By Gareth Dennison | 19/11/2021

Pitches housing turned down against professional advice, inquiry told

 

PROTECTION in place to spare the former Pitches sports club from housing development is outdated and based on “incorrect evidence”, it has been claimed.

Newett Homes is appealing against Rotherham Council’s rejection of a bid to build 116 homes on the land at Broom.

The site is designated as urban greenspace and RMBC says the same principles apply as when a housing application was thrown out in 1997.

The land’s protected status was renewed in 2018’s Local Plan document but planning consultant Tim Waring — appearing for Newett — suggested this was based on “incorrect evidence”.

“On that basis, the weight to be given to this designation is questionable,” he told the planning inquiry on Tuesday.

“I would say it’s out of date. There’s a position where the site hasn’t been used, nor is there a reasonable probability of this site being used in the future.

“It is accepted by officers that the site is unlikely to be used for playing pitch sports. It’s accepted that it’s in private ownership, with no mechanism to open up the site for public use.

“It’s a highly sustainable site in terms of its location. It has very good access to schools, good access to community services. It’s got nearby shopping facilities at the Stag roundabout, and excellent transport connections.

“We are faced here with a proposal where there are no grounds for objection, where the application was refused against professional advice and what I can only see as largely politically-based grounds.”

The appellant’s evidence suggested that the Pitches site makes “little meaningful contribution” to the area.

Mr Waring said: “It’s had no beneficial use for at least six years. It’s in an unmanaged state. Any views into it are very limited and only local.

“Historically, it met a much wider sporting need than its immediate locality. You can trace it back to the Rotherham Co-op, that covered all of Rotherham.

“This is not a case of wanton neglect. There’s been a period where there has been limited investment because of low levels of income.

“It’s clearly a site that has suffered following the removal of a number of sports clubs.”

The proposed Section 106 agreement includes £876,000 to improve sports facilities elsewhere in the borough, in mitigation for the loss of the Pitches.

Freddie Humphreys, representing the council at the inquiry, said there were concerns about how deliverable the suggested works would be due to land ownership matters and the need for planning permissions.

Mr Waring said: “There’s no reason to understand that there’s any planning blockers to delivery.”

The inquiry continues.

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