Sports hall plan goes back to the drawing board

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A proposal by West Kirby Grammar School to build a sports hall on Anglesey Road playing fields has been kicked in to touch – but only for the time being.

The school has withdrawn its application for a 923 square metre building constructed from steel with metal cladding on the green belt land.

It follows more than 70 objections – many from local residents – as well as from Sport England and The Wirral Society.

A letter from Sport England sent to Wirral Council’s planning team reveals that West Kirby United football team, which uses the site, only learned about the proposal after it was submitted.

Their response adds: “Given there is no evidence of strategic need and sporting benefits that outweigh the loss of playing field submitted, and there is a clear impact on current football provision, Sport England objects to the proposal.

“The application is not considered to accord with any of the exceptions to Sport England’s Playing Fields Policy or with Paragraph 99 of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework].

“Should the local planning authority be minded to grant planning permission for the proposal, contrary to Sport England’s objection then in accordance with The Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009, the application should be referred to the Secretary of State, via the National Planning Casework Unit.”

The Wirral Society raised concerns about on street car parking

In its response, The Wirral Society said: “The place of access is on a bend and would seem to be a most dangerous location.

“If this new hall was used for other functions, then the car parking would spread out onto Greenbank and Anglesey Roads, already congested with residents’ parking and the parking from the Football Club.”

They suggested the sports hall should be built on the school’s tennis courts, which could be relocated to Anglesey Road.

The school had argued that the scheme – which would have included toilets, storage space, a classroom and a doubling of on-site car park spaces – would improve the education of students, as well as “establishing further community links” and providing “invaluable facilities in the area”.

In a statement, West Kirby Grammar School Head, Simeon Clarke, told West Kirby Today that, despite withdrawing the application, they want to come up with a revised scheme “that meets the needs of the local community”.

He said: “It remains the ambition of West Kirby Grammar School to develop a Sports Facility that is fitting to the needs of the school and its students.

“It is also intended that this facility be of significant benefit to the local community, providing increased opportunities to improve physical and mental wellbeing for local residents.

“It was clear from the initial proposal that, despite the school’s best efforts to offer a facility that would be of benefit to many including other local schools, that some local residents had concerns over the possible impact of the proposed development and, wishing to ensure that a positive relationship with the local community is maintained, the school will now be working with planners to assess ways in which more needs can be met through further developments of the proposal.

“The school will be working alongside planning experts to ensure that all concerns are evaluated and that a further proposal meets the needs of the wider community.”

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