PLANS for a state-of-the-art community sporting hub at King Edward VI School are a step closer to fruition.
Following an appeal decision by the Planning Inspectorate, the school is looking to improve its sports facilities, which include a floodlit artificial pitch and modernised pavilion.
To fund the project, the school had applied for planning permission for six houses on a small, unused piece of land at the periphery of the sports grounds along Manor Road. Despite public support during the consultation period, the application was refused by Stratford District Council and the school appealed to The Planning Inspectorate against this decision.
Although the appeal was dismissed, the inspector accepted the principle of the housing development on the site to fund the enhancements to the facilities and rejected the main objections to the proposals, which included the effect on the character of the area and on the grade II listed pavillion, the impact on residents and road safety concerns.
The inspector acknowledged the benefits to the community and the school, and concluded, with some adjustments, there was no reason the scheme could not go ahead.
The school plans to submit a revised planning application.
Central to the plans is a floodlit, artificial pitch for hockey, football, netball and tennis. This facility, for which planning permission has already been granted, would be available between 8am to 9.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 4pm on weekends, with the usage split between the school and community clubs.
The plans also include a new access road leading to a 60-space car park and coach parking bay which will allow disabled access to the pavilion, enable ambulances to reach the pitch-side and will reduce congestion on match days.
The 1971 listed pavilion designed by Warwickshire architect Robert Harvey would be internally modernised under plans already approved.
This would include new changing areas, toilet facilities, and first aid room.
Support for the plans has been expressed by national sports bodies as well as major sports clubs in the town.
Headmaster Bennet Carr said: “KES is passionate about sport and the benefits it provides for health and wellbeing, especially following months of Covid restrictions.
We are delighted that the inspector recognised that these new facilities will be a major advancement for the town and the school and has provided a clear steer to enable us to realise our plans.”
Mark Reynolds, chairman of Stratford Hockey Club, added: “Although this decision does not provide the clear green light for the desperately needed new all-weather sports pitch, it is clearly an extremely positive step in achieving this vital goal for sport within Stratford.
“Crucially, we note that the Planning Inspectorate has acknowledged the considerable community benefits through the delivery of improved sporting facilities and their findings in this respect are very much welcomed.
“Our growing club is now playing ‘home’ matches on a weekly basis at hired facilities in the centre of Warwick and despite our excellent and long-standing partnership with Stratford School there is a proven, and increasing, need for more than a single all-weather pitch in the town.
“We very much hope that the technical issues cited by the inspector in relation to the school’s original planning scheme can be resolved rapidly to enable all parties to plan clearly for the future and to unlock what will be a superb addition to the town’s sports facilities.”