THE PLANNING committee was happy to approve a new 3G sports pitch for Cantley Park at its virtual meeting last night.
The scheme, which includes an artificial pitch, floodlights, more parking, new changing rooms and improving the viewing balcony and café, was welcomed by all councillors.
Cllr Malcolm Richards, Conservative councillor for Norreys Ward, which includes Cantley Park, said he was pleased to see the floodlights have been modified so they don’t affect the local neighbourhood, and that he welcomed better, upgraded sporting facilities.
The application had only two objections, after 400 neighbours were contacted about the plans.
Cllr Carl Doran, Labour councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates, said he hoped to see more cycle racks installed on site.
He said: “In a site like this, that’s sport related, more people are likely to cycle there. I think it would be better to have more racks. Twenty-four spaces is generous, but I would like to see more.”
The plans also include cutting down a lime tree and some hedgerows. But these will be replaced with 21 new trees, hedgerows and a wild seed mix to offset the damage.
Cllr Doran added: “Removing one tree and replacing it with 21 is the kind of ratio we should be doing everywhere.”
The improvements will see a £1.6million investment by the borough council, with the intention to create an improved place for sportspeople and families at the park.
The additional 39 parking spaces will bring the total to 164, with four larger spaces to accommodate minibuses.
The borough council will soon be bidding for funding from the Football Foundation to match its investment.
The result is expected in autumn and subject to the grant approval of the grant, work will start in early 2021.
Responding to the approval, Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure, said: “We are immensely proud that we have received planning permission for these fantastic enhancements at Cantley Park.
“Cantley Park is the largest park with playing pitches that are used by so many people from across the whole borough but we need to make significant improvements to the current facilities as they are outdated. So this is fantastic news for local teams, who will no longer have to travel outside the borough for matches or training, and it will help our climate change initiatives.
“These enhancements will benefit all of our residents not just the football community. Visiting the park, whether to exercise, meet friends, walk the dog or simply relax, is really popular with local people. These proposals will see significant investment in a much loved and well used facility.”
The artificial hockey pitch and 12 tennis courts at Cantley Park will be unaffected by the works.