Chairman's Blog - Sept 2021


Bellway submitted a planning application some months ago to build 89 dwellings on the former LESSA sports ground. The developers had previously built houses and flats on the rest of the ground under a permission granted by a Planning Inspector on appeal in 2009. These now make up Meadowview Road, off Grand Drive.

The Planning Inspector’s decision made clear that the rest of the ground was to be retained for sporting purposes, principally for junior sport. 

Accordingly, the Council’s local plan states that residential development will only be permitted where sporting or community use has been demonstrated to be undeliverable.

Bellway has refused for 10 years since this decision to discuss with the Residents’ Association potential sporting users of the site.

Their application asserted that a sporting use of the site had been thoroughly explored and is undeliverable.  This was despite various sporting organisations having recently contacted them.

When we learnt of Bellway’s intentions, we discovered that real expressions of interest and firm offers to use the whole ground for sports had been made by a cricket academy, a cricket club, a rugby club, and an established junior school. They were prepared to work together, to share the ground and build a pavilion, so that the ground could be used all the year, including during school holidays.

We provided Sport England with this evidence, and they formally objected to the application. Since then there has been silence, and no-one knew what was happening to the application.

We learnt this August that the Council’s Planning Officer is sending a questionnaire to the various sporting bodies which had contacted Bellway. The questionnaire is designed to “assist planning officers in better understanding the offers which may been made for use of the land”. It asks a number of detailed questions, and the answers have to be given within 21 days.

We hope that the replies will make it clear that viable and long term use of the ground can be shown to be deliverable, so that the planning application can be rejected at the outset, as not being in accordance with the local plan.

This is clearly the wish of all the local residents who replied to our leaflets a year ago, expressing outrage at the prospect of building on the rest of this ground, contrary to the decision of the Planning Inspector.  We take the view that Bellway have taken their major profit from their development, and should not be allowed to make a further profit at the expense of local sports interests and local people.

John Elvidge, Chairman

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