Steyning Parish Council has taken ‘another significant step forward’ in its quest to gain approval for its plan to build a skate park on the Memorial Playing Field.
Chairman of the council, Phil Bowell, said the planning officer’s recommendation for approval is a ‘green light’ for the application before its consideration by the district council at the Development Control Planning Committee on April 15.
Mr Bowell said: “It’s another significant step forward. We’re grateful that officers have put forward this recommendation. It’s a green light as far as the parish council in concerned.”
The story is quite different for Friends of the Memorial Playing Field (FoMPF), a local action group that has expressed its opposition to the council’s proposed location on the Memorial Playing Field, and submitted its own application to build the facility at The Steyning Leisure Centre, but the planning officer has recommended this alternative site for refusal.
“We have done everything that’s expected of us,” added Mr Bowell. “We believe it’s subject to conditions. However, we’re on the right track whatever those issues. We’ll deal with them as professionally as we can.”
The condition Mr Bowell refers to is ‘a referral of the application to the National Planning Casework Unit in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Direction’ as stated by the planning officer in the committee’s agenda.
This is due to an objection from Sport England in relation to the partial loss of the playing field if the plan is granted. In this circumstance the National Planning Casework Unit will decide whether the application should be called in for determination by the Secretary of State or referred back to Horsham District Council.
The FoMPF application, however, has been recommended for refusal based on the Crime Prevention Design Officer at Sussex Police, who raised concerns regarding the ‘siting of the skate park in the middle of the leisure centre car park which would be likely to result in damage to vehicles, complaints of loitering and acts of anti social behaviour and the impact its positioning may have upon the safety of the skate park users’.
The officer concluded that these outweigh the community benefits and recommended the plan for refusal.
On November 27, Steyning residents voted in favour of Steyning Parish Council’s skate park application in a poll.
Mr Bowell said the council is now able to move forward with the support of residents who voted ‘yes’ to the plan.