Casebook: Appeal cases - Leisure and Entertainment. Bowling green deemed harmful to historic park

An all-weather bowling green next to an existing green in an Oxfordshire town has been rejected on the grounds that it would harm the conservation area and historic park in which it would be located.

The inspector considered that the park was a fine example of a Victorian landscaped suburban park bounded by residential estate roads. The appellants argued that the changes would not be material because the proposal would make use of disused tennis courts. The council, backed by local residents, maintained that the change would be significant.

The inspector considered that the bowling green would encroach into open green space in the central area of the park, obstructing key vistas across the park and eroding the symmetry, qualities and features of the original design. In his view, substantial recontouring would change the landform noticeably and the provision of a synthetic surface would not complement the natural characteristics of the present landscape.

He felt that the loss of a significant area of the park to public use would upset the balance between informal recreational use and the more formal recreational facilities of the bowling green. He could also foresee significantly increased levels of activity at the club. While conceding that bowls is one of the most decorous of sports, he held that the presence of more people at the club could erode the park's ambience and tranquillity.

The inspector concluded that allowing the appeal would result in a disproportionate area of the park being allocated to the bowling club at the expense of the historic park's character and appearance and the interests of other users of the landscaped open space, much of which had been provided by public subscription in the past.

DCS No: 100039322; Inspector: Stephen Pratt; Hearing.

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