THE controversial development of an all-weather sports pitch at a leading Tonbridge school will now go ahead after receiving the green light by the borough council’s planning committee.
However, due to the objections of nearby residents to Tonbridge Grammar School, the use of the pitch has been significantly constrained.
Their concerns over increased traffic, late night illumination from floodlights and noise have already led to the Deakin Leas based school dropping plans to allow the pitch to be used by the wider community or for it to host any activity on Sundays.
And last week [June 29], as councillors met to approve a similar development that they rejected in 2014, they applied additional conditions on the use of the artificial turf. Their previous decision was based on the ‘unacceptable level of disturbance to the surrounding residents’ it would cause. There is only one vehicular access point to the school, situated within a residential street.
On Saturdays, the curfew for activity at the facility was brought back to 2.30pm from the originally proposed 6.30pm.
A formal mechanism, to ensure the floodlights are only illuminated during the permitted hours, has also been demanded.
The school’s Head Teach, Rosemary Joyce said: “On behalf of current and future generations of Tonbridge Grammar School students I am delighted that our planning application for an all-weather pitch was approved by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.
“The facility will significantly enhance sports provision at TGS improving opportunities for team sports that are so vital to health and wellbeing. I very much appreciate the considered approach of councillors to what I understand was a sensitive planning application – in particular, their recognition of the value of sport for young people, the importance of addressing inadequate facilities, and the actions taken by the School to mitigate and address the concerns raised.
“We await the Secretary of State’s ruling following Sport England’s objection on the grounds that there is no community use within the plan and remain positive that if this is favourable, there will be no significant delay to the start of work on the pitch.”