A school’s bid to build a new artificial grass pitch is opposed by hundreds of residents, concerned by the traffic issues it will cause.
Park View School, Chester-le-Street, hopes to expand its sports facilities by building the pitch on its playing fields, so it can be used throughout the year.
As one of the largest schools in County Durham, staff at Park View say PE lessons are often cancelled due to the lack of current facilities.
“A new 3G pitch would have a huge impact on our school curriculum, improving outcomes for our learners and freeing up space as the provision could take place all year round,” said Lewis Pendleton, the school’s director of sport.
“It is greatly disappointing for both our pupils and the local community groups that from October to March we cannot use much of the field for any sports or general recreation.”
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But, residents say the proposed 15m floodlights and fence surrounding the pitch are not suited to the area, which is populated by dozens of residential properties.
More than 190 objections have been submitted to Durham County Council, including from the local MP Kevan Jones and county councillor Julie Scurfield.
“The estate around the school is made up of narrow roads, which run into single lanes when cars are parked outside houses,” said Cllr Scurfield. “Any traffic accessing the site will create chaos for people and bring misery to this tranquil neighbourhood.
Labour MP Kevan Jones said he hopes ‘common sense prevails’ and the application is refused, despite planning officers’ recommendation to approve.
He added: “Residents are rightly angry at the lack of engagement from Park View School and are understandably concerned that an artificial pitch would result in significant additional transport and parking problems for the local community.
While residents accept there is a need for more sporting facilities, they say there are other areas more suitable to house them.
Cllr Scurfield said: “We are not anti-development or anti-football, but this site just isn’t for this application – the applicants state there’s enough parking onsite, but this is absolutely refuted by residents and the independent experts they have commissioned to assess the potential impact of these proposed facilities.”
The application is due to be discussed at a Durham County Council planning committee meeting on Thursday, October 5.