Sports pitch supported by schools presumption

An upgraded sports pitch has been allowed at a Greater Manchester school, with an inspector taking account of a national policy presumption in favour of development at state-funded free schools.

The proposal to replace a grass playing field with an all-weather surface would remove the need for pupils to walk some distance to a synthetic pitch at a sports club. The inspector noted that the National Planning Policy Framework puts great weight on the need to create, expand or alter schools and stresses that opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to community health and wellbeing.

He recognised that residents would experience more disturbance from increased use of the site, but noted that the distance between homes and the pitch would exceed the 12-metre minimum recommended by Sport England. He found no evidence that additional parking demand during inter-school matches could not be met within the grounds.

He agreed that a proposed three-metre-high perimeter fence would be prominent in the outlook from nearby flats, but decided that tree planting would reduce its visual impact. He concluded that the scheme's effect on neighbours would not be so serious as to outweigh the operational benefits for the school.

Inspector: John Mattocks; Written representations

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