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DELAYED DECISION: Risk of rogue balls being thrown into passing traffic causes concerns

DELAYED DECISION: Risk of rogue balls being thrown into passing traffic causes concerns

Image: LDRS

The risk of rogue balls being thrown into passing traffic was among a raft of concerns that saw Solihull planners delay a decision on a sports ground redevelopment.

Plans had been submitted for a major revamp of the Warwickshire Gaelic Athletic Association (WGAA) facility in Catherine de Barnes Lane.

The scheme would see the old clubhouse pulled down and a new building constructed at the greenbelt site, creation of an all-weather pitch and other alterations.

However, the planning committee was worried there were many unanswered questions and at its meeting this week agreed to defer the application and demand more detail.

Cllr Jim Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) argued there were some “serious flaws” in the design and layout and claimed the plans had been put forward with “obscene haste”.

“I don’t know if many members of the committee will be aware of the activities that take place on that particular ground – there’s Gaelic hurling and Gaelic football.

“Now Gaelic hurling, when the ball is struck it can travel – from a decent player – 70 to 80 yards.

“And there is no mention of screening in terms of nets where balls may well be hit onto the roadway of Catherine de Barnes and the new relief road.”

He was also worried by the fact that many of the other conditions around the likes of lighting and noise relied on reports which had yet to be submitted.

While he said he would like to support the sport continuing in the area – the current home was approved in the 1980s – there was an “awful lot missing” from the current proposals.

The planned improvements had been put forward by construction firm Skanska and Highways England and is part of the package of works to upgrade Junction 6 of the M42 nearby.

Neighbour Philip O’Reilly, who lives a short distance from the site, said: “The proposal is a new major development but has been treated as a slight variation to an existing use.

“The proposed site is considerably larger, closer to our property and its use will be intensified.

“It encroaches deeper into the greenbelt with the loss of agricultural land and the unnecessary loss of habitat and hedgerow.”

Luke Coffey, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said the scheme had been drawn up with input from the WGAA and Sport England to “maintain and enhance” the existing facilities.

“It will reconfigure the existing playing pitches and in doing so provide a new all-weather pitch that will deliver significant sporting benefits,” he said.

“The existing clubhouse will be demolished and replaced with an improved facility that is not a materially large building … overall the scheme preserves the openness of the greenbelt.”

The committee agreed to support Cllr Ryan’s suggestion that the plans be deferred so that more detail could be provided.

Although planning officers had pointed out ahead of the vote that there was a “fallback” scheme, as part of the Development Consent Order (DCO) previously granted by government for the motorway works.

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter


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