A26 Cycle Route

Bearsted Football Club

Bearsted Football Club are a thriving, locally based sports club with a large junior and senior membership base. Their Mens 1st XI team play at an existing sports ground in nearby Otham, just south-east of the Maidstone urban envelope. Planning permission for permanent floodlights and the permanent siting of two stands was sought in order to upgrade the existing facilities and to meet the entry requirements of higher leagues, which would allow for promotion if secured in future years.

As part of the planning application process, work was undertaken to establish the bat population within nearby woodland, the impact of the proposals upon protected trees adjacent to the site, and to establish the intensity and spread of light that would arise from the proposed floodlights with regard to residential amenity and landscape impact.

Maidstone Borough Council initially refused planning permission on grounds relating to the sustainability of development at the site, which is deemed countryside in planning policy terms, and on the landscape impact that follow. Both decisions were appealed and considered at an informal hearing.

A comprehensive case was presented to the Planning Inspector, in collaboration with dha transport, to assess existing attendance and usage levels at the site, thereby demonstrating that the development and the potential future promotion it could allow, would not materially intensify its use. Detailed planning policy and planning history research also found that the Council had previously considered the site to be urban fringe in character and of relatively low landscape quality, whilst viewpoint analysis of the site established the limited extent of visual and landscape impact that would arise.

It was shown that the development was directly supported by sustainable development policy given the improvement to sports facilities that would be secured and the extended use of these facilities that it would allow. In all other respects the development satisfied policy.

The Inspector endorsed the case put forward on behalf of the football club and allowed both appeals.

For more information please contact Jason Lewis.

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