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1st Jul, 2022

Sports pitch dispute at Solihull school could be settled after planners' recommendation

John Carlon 10th Aug, 2020

A CONTROVERSIAL planning wrangle over a school sports pitch could be settled on Wednesday (August 12).

A decision over building an artificial sports pitch at a Solihull school was pushed back by councillors at a meeting last month, but a special meeting of the planning committee has been called to resolve the issue.

The application centres on plans to create an all-weather football pitch at Tudor Grange Academy Solihull.

Public opposition was raised from the the school’s neighbours, some of whom accused the school of resurrecting the 2007 Powerleague planning row which created tensions in the Whitefield Road area.

School head Claire Smith put forward her own pitch plans this year, which are recommended by council planning officers.

Officials say the proposals ‘would not conflict with the Local Plan; the construction of the development and local employment are both economic benefits, and significant weight should be given to the economic, environmental and social benefits of the proposed development.”

They say the recommendation comes with rules against blowing whistles after 9pm, and the school must ban players from the pitch if they swear.

The 1.5 acre pitch would have lighting and a high mesh fence surrounding it, to provide space for youth sports.

The school intends to use it for under-16s football training, with markings for rounders overlaid.

Objections to the application have focused on its similarity to proposals from pitch operator Powerleague, 13 years ago.

The 5-a-side league operator hoped to see new pitches provide a commercial revenue at the school site.

In details of opposition, neighbours believe the school would use the pitch for adult sports as a money-making venture.

Objections were also lodged ahead of the committee meeting by Green councillors Coun Shahin Ashraf, Coun Tim Hodgson and Coun Max McLoughlin.

When putting forward the plans in May 2020, Claire Smith, Principal of Tudor Grange Academy Solihull, said:“We want to reassure residents about the TGAS application to convert a football pitch into an all-weather pitch and ensure the information they receive is accurate.

“The application is to replace a football pitch that is currently unusable for the vast majority of the year due to poor drainage with a third generation (3G) synthetic pitch.

“Problems with the current pitch have led to cancelled fixtures and a reduction in our PE and sport offer and we want to fix the problem to benefit our students.

“The proposal is for a junior pitch of 91m x 55m that is ideal for our students and community. It would not be feasible to expand the size in the future and there is no need.

“In partnership with The FA the new facility will also be used by selected local clubs in the evenings and at weekends to support community football.”

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