Playing fields surplus lead to housing success

A company in Derbyshire has been successful in securing permission to build 91 dwellings on its playing fields, an inspector agreeing that they were surplus to requirements.

The site was privately owned and not currently in use as playing fields. It had been last used in 2008, with playing fields which included a football pitch, a cricket pitch, tennis courts, a bowling green and clubhouse facilities. The appellant stated that apart from the provision of a locally equipped area of play there was no overriding need to retain the site and asserted that if the appeal were dismissed the company would not seek to dispose of the site at a sub-optimal value.

The appellant’s assessment did not follow the guidance laid down by Sport England and examined an area within 600 metres of the site, the inspector noted. Nonetheless, the council had prepared an up-to-date assessment which suggested that there was no requirement for further cricket, tennis and bowling facilities. In addition, some active playing fields might be returned to green space. Unused council playing fields were available to support local sports clubs, he decided, and in the absence of any compulsory purchase of the land it seemed unlikely that the appeal site would make any contribution to sporting and recreational facilities in the area. Since the council was unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land the appeal was allowed.

Inspector: Mark Dakeyne; Inquiry

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