Casebook: Appeal cases - Housing: New build - Sports hall held to compensate for pitch loss

Plans for 49 homes on an area of open space in the grounds of a Surrey college have been approved after an inspector agreed that there was a surplus of recreational facilities in the area and that a sports hall would compensate for the loss of the land.

The college and local planning authority had carried out assessments of open space and recreational provision in a nearby town. Both studies broadly concluded that despite shortfalls of junior football and rugby pitches, there was a surplus of adult football and rugby pitches as well as cricket and hockey pitches.

The inspector noted the strong local opposition to the development. However, he observed that Sport England, which initially objected to the development, had subsequently concluded that the benefit resulting from the provision of a sports hall on another site in the college grounds outweighed the loss of the playing field.

He decided that the playing field was surplus to requirements. The fact that the general public had no rights of access to the land, which had in any event been used only infrequently over the past 20 years, reinforced his view that the provision of the sports hall and the upgrade of existing pitches outweighed the limited harm caused by its loss.

DCS No: 36027554; Inspector: Clive Hughes; Inquiry.

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