Oakfield sports-hall plan is refused following split vote

A KEY part of the plan to move sports facilities out of Fort Regent and into new or refurbished hubs appears to have stalled after permission for a £3.1 million sports hall at Oakfield Sports Centre was refused.

Plans to invest £3.1 million of public money upgrading Oakfield Sports Centre are in jeopardy after the decision Picture: ROB CURRIE (31896114)
Plans to invest £3.1 million of public money upgrading Oakfield Sports Centre are in jeopardy after the decision Picture: ROB CURRIE (31896114)

The proposals went before the Planning Committee where, despite there being no public objections to the plans, concerns around parking, design and the size of the proposed building led members to refuse the application.

Those behind the plans for the proposed new centre, near Hautlieu School, said it could have incorporated 12 undercover badminton courts and a 3G floodlit pitch.

The proposals had received £3.1 million of fiscal stimulus funding and were due to cater for several other sports.

During the Planning Committee meeting yesterday, Andy Scate, the director general of the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Department, spoke in favour of the plans, saying a wider strategy aimed at improving provision for sport would be scuppered if the plans did not go ahead.

He said: ‘At this point in time, this is the only viable solution we have to allow a decant of Fort Regent from a sport perspective. This issue has not been resolved for many years but we now have that solution in front of us.

‘However, more importantly, without it, sport and sport-club members, children and older facility users will not have this much-needed investment in sport facilities. Sport facilities in the Island are used by all. This is a public facility. It is within the existing built-up area and it is within the existing sport site, and it is important that land for other uses elsewhere is not then used for these proposals.’

First to vote on whether to approve the application was Planning Committee chairman Constable Philip Le Sueur, who described the plans as ‘finely balanced’. He said the building would be ‘significantly sized and prominent’ but thought it would provide a strong community benefit. He voted in favour.

However, Deputy Steve Luce said the committee was being asked to consider the application purely on its planning merits rather than on government policy. He took issue with the number of people expected to visit the site.

‘My main objection is parking. There is no doubt in my mind that the use of a 3G pitch, the intensification of the new hall and those many thousands of people who will use those facilities during the day and in the evenings will put massive pressure on parking in the area – an area that is already intensively used by all the various schools,’ he said.

Constable Marcus Troy said he was going to abstain from voting as he was a new member of the Planning Committee. Deputy Jeremy Maçon voted against the proposals.

Deputy Graham Truscott said sports facilities were crucial for a child’s development and voted in favour. ‘I have always had this quote in the back of my mind and it says that a lot of the wars were actually won on the green fields of Eton – something along those lines – and that puts into context how important sport is,’ he said.

As the votes were tied, the project was refused.

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