Much needed football pitch approved for Biggleswade school site
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A “desperate” shortage of football pitches in Biggleswade is set to be eased, with a new £850,000 artificial grass pitch to be provided at a local school.
The campaign to reverse the lack of playing facilities was pitched to town councillors last summer by Biggleswade Football Club, which has a ground-sharing arrangement with Bedford Town.
Deputy mayor Madeline Russell said at the time she was “embarrassed” by the lack of leisure facilities locally.
Applicant Meridian Trust submitted full plans for a 3G all-weather grass pitch on a two-acre area of the playing fields at Stratton Upper School in Eagle Farm Road.
The project includes perimeter fencing, hardstanding areas, a storage container, floodlights, landscaping and a footpath, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee.
“There’ll be some impact on nearby residential properties,” said the report. “But subject to suitable mitigation being secured by planning conditions, such as a noise management plan for the facility, it’s anticipated the proposed use will be acceptable.
“The new all-weather artificial grass pitch will have a 3G rubber-crumb surface, which will serve both the school and the local community.
“It can accommodate a range of sports, although the pitch will be marked out for multiple football formats. These are a single full-size adult pitch, two nine-a-side pitches, two seven-a-side pitches and four five-a-side pitches.”
There were seven comments made, three opposing the plans, one in support and three general remarks, while the town council raised no objection, added the report.
Conservative Biggleswade South councillor Mark Foster backed the application, saying in a statement: “Biggleswade is short of football pitches and with an appropriate community use agreement this has the potential to improve the lives of many people in the town and wider area.
“Consideration needs to be given to the impact on local residents, especially those in Orchard Close, over noise, lighting and access routes.”
Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker said in a statement: “The town is in desperate need of more football pitches and facilities.
“We currently have keen players having to travel outside Biggleswade to access suitable practice areas and this pitch will address a clear unmet need for the town.
“I’m mindful of the impact on neighbouring homes. But I’m reassured concerns raised have been addressed. Tree planting along some of the boundaries would limit noise and light pollution.”
Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey asked for flexibility so that “appropriate planting” is included, whether shrubs or trees.
Planning officer David Gauntlett said: “The applicant is happy to provide extra hedging along Orchard Close, which could be secured by a planning condition.
“We can request an appropriate form of mitigation planting, which officers will work with the applicant to determine.”
Conservative Biggleswade North councillor Ian Bond said: “We want a scheme agreeable to CBC’s landscaping experts. Orchard Close is near, as is Hitchmead Road.
“We need to look after neighbours as much as we can. I support this and I’m sure our officers will put together a robust plan.”
Councillors unanimously approved the development.