Stratford school to push ahead with new sports fields plan
Stratford’s King Edward VI School appears confident the state-of-the-art redevelopment of its Manor Road sporting facilities will become a reality, despite losing a recent planning appeal.
The school wants to make huge improvements to the site costing in excess of £1million, including the installation of a new floodlit artificial pitch and a modernised pavilion.
However one part of the plans, to develop a small strip of land alongside Manor Road into six houses, in order to fund the wider development, has proved controversial.
The school argues that this land is unsuitable to be used for sport, but Stratford Town Council and Warwickshire County Council Highways objected to this aspect of the project along with 89 members of the public, citing issues such as the loss of trees, on-street parking and of green space.
On the other hand there were 548 letters submitted supporting the application, many of which argued the benefits of improving the sports pitches significantly outweighed the potential harm of the new housing.
At the beginning of the year the application for the project was rejected by Stratford District Council, a decision the school went on to appeal.
KES recently learned that the appeal had failed, but the school sees a silver lining to this cloud, with the planning inspector acknowledging the significant benefits of the project and finding that there was no reason it could not take place with some minor adjustments to the plans.
The inspector accepted housing at the site would not result in an unacceptable loss of playing fields and would not impact on highway safety.
The school’s appeal ultimately failed on the grounds that the houses would affect the sight lines of an adjacent property and that there was not enough justification for removing five trees.
KES believe a new planning application repositioning the houses and leaving the trees in place will address these concerns and are full of confidence that a new planning application, which they intend to submit as soon as possible, will be approved.
The idea of enhancing the sports facilities has significant support among sports clubs, some of whom have struggled to find available all weather pitches in the area.
Headmaster Bennet Carr said: “K.E.S. 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 said: “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.”
However the news that a new application will be submitted has not been welcomed by everyone.
Cllr Kate Rolfe, district councillor for Tiddington, said: "We will have to wait and see the details in the new application but there is a large group of residents opposed to new housing being built on the playing fields. We will continue to fight this battle."