Archery centre length inadequate for elite archers

An indoor archery centre was denied permission on a former landfill site in Surrey on the grounds of harm to the metropolitan green belt and potential water pollution.

The inspector was unconvinced by the appellant’s argument that archery was an outdoor sport and the centre would thus not conflict with green belt objectives. Archery was both an outdoor and an indoor sport, the inspector ruled. The building would be in a gap between settlements and would thereby conflict with the green belt purpose of preventing neighbouring towns running into each other, and the erection of a large building in the green belt on an almost flat field would harm its openness. The proposal constituted inappropriate development in the green belt, the inspector found.

The environment agency maintained that a ground investigation was needed including the risk from landfill gas and that this should be a pre-requisite of any planning permission. The appellant, on the other hand, said that an investigation would be costly, and should be dealt with by way of a condition on a permission. The inspector considered that the development could involve problems of drainage, infiltration, leaching and flushing, as well as land stability and disturbance to a petrochemical pipeline which crossed part of the site. If damage were caused to the pipe or adjacent site there could be a major pollution incident, the inspector remarked.

He concluded that the potential risks were so serious that site investigation works would need to take place before a permission could be issued.

The inspector noted that archers had difficulty enjoying and training for their sport in winter and that Olympic and developing archers at the highest level had to travel to Shropshire to train indoors at the Olympic shooting distance of 70m. He pointed out, however, that the maximum shooting length that could be achieved with the proposal was likely to be less than 55m. Thus, one of the main aims of the proposal, and one that would build on the Olympic legacy, would not be achieved.

Inspector Kenneth Smith; Hearing

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