A council decision to refuse new sports facilities at Christ’s Hospital is set to be taken to appeal by the school.
A planning application for a new athletics running track, all-weather pitch and sports centre extension was rejected by councillors back in January.
Although generally supportive of new sports facilities a number of members suggested the harm to the landscape character of the rural area and impact on neighbouring properties outweighed the benefits of the scheme.
Since then Bluecoat Sports has amended its plans and submitted a new application to Horsham District Council.
In the meantime the school has launched an appeal to the planning inspectorate against HDC’s original decision to refuse planning permission.
While the school is pushing for a public inquiry to be held, the council wants the appeal to be decided by an informal hearing.
According to the initial planning appeal form the school said a public inquiry was needed to ‘enable the reasons for refusal to be properly examining and tested including the policy context’.
But in response Adrian Smith, major applications team leader at HDC, argued the appeal would be ‘most appropriately dealt with via the hearing procedure’.
He said: “The matters concerned are not complex, and as such, would be most appropriately be assessed by an inspector via an informal hearing.”
He felt in this case the council did not consider any need for representation by legal advocates or a necessity for any party to give evidence under oath.
In a further letter to the inspector on behalf of the school, Charmain Hawkin, director at Brighter Planning Consultancy, wrote: “The appellant has invested considerable time and cost in the submission of this application and therefore, given that it was refused against officer recommendation, it is not considered that a hearing would be an adequate means of testing the evidence to the satisfaction of all parties.
“It could leave the resulting decision open to judicial review. Given the importance of this application to the future development of the school it is seen as imperative that the matter is properly and appropriately considered via a public inquiry.”