The ground had closed in 2000. The entrances were gated and locked and there was no public access to the site, which was overgrown and unusable. The appellant proposed the homes as an enabling development to restore the sports ground. This would provide two junior pitches for rugby or football, a junior cricket ground, five tennis courts, a children's playground, two pavilions and a public cycleway across the site.
The tennis courts would be leased to a local tennis club at a peppercorn rent and the sports fields would be made available to a local school on similar terms. A unitary development plan policy prohibited redevelopment of land previously used as recreational space unless the facilities could best be retained by building on a small part of the site and alternative provision of equivalent community value was made.
The inspector observed that the sports ground had never been a public facility and that for the past ten years the only benefit it had provided was a green outlook from surrounding houses. The parties agreed that about 16 per cent of the entire site would be used for the enabling development. Compared to the area set aside for sports and recreational facilities, the inspector was satisfied that this would be acceptable.
The community benefits would satisfy the requirements of the policy, he concluded. In addition, he was satisfied that the proposal complied with the overall aims of PPG17, which seeks to maintain an adequate supply of open space and states that wherever possible the aim should be to achieve qualitative improvements to open spaces, sports and recreation facilities.
DCS Number 100-064-758
Inspector Tony Lyman; Written representations