Yeovil Town's planning application for a Food Store at Huish Park looks as though it will face some delays in terms of the final decision made by South Somerset District Council. A target date of May 1st for the application, which is for a supermarket to be built on six acres of land to the north of the stadium, was originally envisaged by SSDC when the application was put in, whilst the club's documented schedule aimed for an April/May 2012 determination.
The anticipated delays are two-fold, and relate to the SSDC Traffic report and to expectations that the club will need to provide separate, but linked, applications relating to their stadium plans and provisions for alternative training and community pitches. At present it looks as though this will potentially extend any decision-making by around a month.
The bigger of the two delays - at present, anyway - relates to the traffic plans associated with the Food Store developments. The County Highways department indicated in February that they required further information relating to the traffic impact, along with a proposed new roundabout at the junction of Western Avenue and Copse Road. There was also a request made for details of proposed temporary traffic management arrangements at the junction of Western Avenue and Thorne Lane. That information was requested on February 15th by County Highways, and the club's transport consultants Richard Parker Consultancy provided a response on March 21st. However, Country Highways have asked for "a month or so" to consider the additional information provided before they give a viewpoint.
This is coupled with the club's main representatives MWA Planning requesting a further ten days to provide SSDC with the necessary information to address other outstanding issues. In addition to the County Highways information, subsequently provided above, MWA plan to submit to SSDC a response to the objection raised by SSDC Planning, along with details of their plans to provide details on their 'linked' applications for stadium improvements and replacement Public Open Space. With SSDC about to commence the compiling of their Local Planning Authority report to SSDC Councillors, the submission of this information is expected to put back the completion of that report.
The planning application has also received an objection from Sport England, the brand name of the English Sports Council, which sits under the Government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In addition to its role as a distributor of National Lottery funds into community sports activities, it also acts as a statutory consultee in planning applications that affect playing fields - their goal being to ensure the quality and availability of sports fields are preserved within a given region.
It is therefore little surprise that they currently object to the Food Store developments. They indicate that they have consulted with the Football Association who have advised "that they want to see adequate replacement new playing fields with community access ... identified and implemented within two years." Sport England indicate that if the planning application is accepted as it stands, they would expect it to be referred to another Government body called the National Planning Casework Unit, which sits under the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government's remit.
This doesn't necessarily add to the club's issues, given that SSDC Planning had already provided objections earlier this month, based on Saved Local Plan CR1 which is to protect the availability of existing community facilities. However, Sport England's objections would strengthen the SSDC Planning report. As before, the club would need to identify alternative pitches within the area to satisfy Sport England's objections.
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