15 May 2014

Council grants consent for school's all-weather sports pitch

A floodlit artificial turf sports pitch could be built at Brighton’s Dorothy Stringer School, following planning permission from the city council on Wednesday May 14 2014.

Consent will permit a green-coloured pitch on the existing sports field, measuring 86m x 56m, plus eight 15m-high lighting columns, 4.5m perimeter fencing and a storage container.

The pitch would be used mainly for football up to 9-a-side plus other sports such as hockey.  It would be available for hire by residents and local clubs.

Two metre-high acoustic fencing would be built along the south side, plus 1.8m-high acoustic fencing on the boundary with 29-129 Loder Road and 1-7 Poplar Close.  Nearest homes are 100m away from the pitch.

A clump of semi-mature trees would be felled near the existing swimming pool. But 30 replacement trees would be planted in the scheme.

Chalk and earth removed to level the pitch would be used elsewhere on the Varndean-Stringer campus to create butterfly havens.

A previous application for a larger pitch was refused in December last year because it required the felling of two mature elm trees and concerns about light pollution and noise.  These elms, between Dorothy Stringer and Balfour Juniors, would be preserved in the new plan.

Proposed hours of use have been reduced from the previous application and are now 7am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-6pm on weekends and bank holidays. Combined with smaller floodlights for the reduced pitch size, officials felt this made the scheme acceptable.

Existing parking on the site was felt by transport officials to be adequate to cope with the increased use.  However the council is requiring the school to pay £46,000 for local highway improvements.

The council received 112 letters objecting to the plans but 147 in support.

Planning committee chair Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said:  “School sites such as this have a crucial role in encouraging sport among pupils and the wider community.  A lit artificial turf pitch means a top facility available to the school and wider community throughout the year and after dark. In a World Cup Year, Dorothy Stringer artificial turf pitch will be a great boost to the health of our young people and the community. Albion in the Community are working with the school as part of its specialist sports status.

“We’ve worked hard to reduce the impacts on local homes and feel we now have a scheme where the benefits hugely outweigh any disadvantages people perceive.”