The appellants proposed to erect 66 homes on the site of an existing cricket club. They also intended to create a cricket ground, two football pitches and a pavilion with a bar, members' room, changing facilities, indoor cricket nets and a groundsman's store on 8ha of agricultural land. They argued that this would enable provision of high-quality sporting facilities for use by local clubs.
The inspector noted that PPG2 treats small changing rooms and unobtrusive spectator areas as acceptable in the green belt. However, he judged that a pavilion of 783m2 with capacity for 250 people standing or 150 seated was a non-essential facility that was clearly inappropriate.
He dismissed the appellants' argument that very special circumstances justified the scheme, seeing nothing unique in the proposals. The cricket club's aspiration to move up the league tables by providing better facilities was a material but not a conclusive consideration, he opined.
Since the housing proposal was inextricably linked to the replacement sporting facilities, he decided that this scheme must also fail. The council's policies specifically precluded the loss of sporting and recreational facilities, he noted. The scheme was unacceptable in the absence of acceptable alternative provision of equivalent or better quality and quantity, he held.
DCS Number 100-050-544
Inspector Nicholas Hammans; Inquiry.