Hillingdon councillors say it is with a ‘heavy heart’ that they approved the increase in hours for a playing pitch belonging to a private school for girls up to 18.
The extension was fought fiercely by residents from The Glen, a neighbouring residential area, who cited noise and traffic concerns as a reason to block the application.
The Northwood College change, which is instituted on a temporary 24-month basis, will see hours for the pitch opening extended from 9am – 6pm Monday to Saturday to 9am -9pm on weekdays, 9am – 6pm on Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sunday.
The school’s intention for the longer opening times is to meet the demand it says it is receiving from nearby sports clubs which will rent the pitch after school hours.
Council officers said the proposed use would provide public benefit and would not cause severe disruption either with noise issues or traffic. However, Hillingdon residents did cite their concerns about the plan with the council receiving a petition with 25 signatures, while another 17 separate objections were made to the council.
Amongst the reasons for the opposition were concerns that extended hours will cause more traffic and cause issues for parking, proposed changes would mean constant noise which is unfair to residents and would impact on quality of life and fear that approval would clear the way for an application for floodlighting which residents describes as ‘totally unacceptable’.
Mrs MacKenzie, who came to the meeting on the behalf of The Glen residents, said she ‘doubted’ the council’s report that the ‘overspill of traffic would be negligible’.
She also asked councillors to consider residents when summing up the benefits of having the pitch open on a Sunday which would mean that they would not have a time of ‘peace and quiet’.
A representation was also made by the bursar of the school, Mr Don Andrews who said he was confident the scheme wouldn’t cause disruption to residents. One of the provisions in place was to ‘limit it to clubs in the local area’ to avoid oversubscription and traffic he said.
Council officers concluded that noise levels as a result of an extension would be low and that increased traffic would likely only cause the potential displacement of 1 vehicle from the car park and onto roadside parking.
Councillors Philip Corthorne and Roy Chamdal did not seem convinced by the plan or the officer’s conclusions but took it on advice that current opposition to the extended hours would not be robust enough a decision to reject the application was appealed by the school. A successful appeal would mean that the council could no longer have control over the application, which could result in less protections for residents.
Instead, an easy compromise was found where it was stipulated that the application would be approved on a temporary 24-month basis in which time noise levels would be monitored, as well as any additions to the pitch, including floodlighting must be considered by the committee.
With this in mind, Cllr Corthorne said he would approve the application ‘with a heavy heart’ which was echoed by Cllr Chamdal.