Yeovil Town's current Planning Appeal may be getting close to a resolution. The appeal against a decision made by SSDC's Area South Planning Committee on September 7th 2016 relates to land the club are attempting to develop in a farmer's field on the west side of Thorne Lane, in Lufton, around half a mile from the Huish Park stadium.
The club lodged an appeal against the three written reasons issued by SSDC in late March 2017 although have never divulged the basis on which their appeal was being made. As such there has been very little visible movement on this case, with guidance notes from the Planning Inspectorate website indicating that such appeals ran off a 44 week timeline, which would make the final decision likely only by early 2018.
The Planning Inspectorate have given a short statement to the Western Gazette indicating that they are waiting for both Yeovil Town to provide additional information with respect to archaeological remains on the Lufton site. Their statement reads:
"A site visit was carried out on September 4th. The inspector has now requested further information from the appellant (Yeovil Town) and the relevant local authorities about a number of potential archaeological remains on the site. The appellant has until November 17th to provide these answers. Unless their response raises any further questions, the inspector will then take their decision as to whether to uphold the appeal."
They don't provide a target date for the appeal, but if they were to adhere to the guidelines set out on their website, then they would aim to complete their Appeal assessment this month, with the final report being published around ten weeks after that, which would point to late January or early February 2018.
Needless to say, with the Lufton planning application having spent the last 14 months being prepared for appeal, along with the actual appeal process, there is no movement at all on the main Huish Park planning application, which was submitted in July 2015, but in reality has not moved since October 2015. Unless the Lufton appeal is successful, it's unlikely that it will, but even in that eventuality, SSDC have warned the club that they will need to revise it due to the length of time that has passed since the original submission.
If the club cannot get approval for the Thorne Lane site, then the Huish Park application will remain indefinitely dormant. Although the club have insisted that the two applications are independent of each other, the commonly accepted theory is that the two football pitches planned in Thorne Lane would be used as leverage that would allow the club to build over the two training pitches at Huish Park that are situated at the Copse Road End.
The club are required by the National Government Planning Policy Framework to replace any sporting pitches or facilities that they wish to build on. This is a common restriction on all planning applications across the country, with Sport England - a public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, responsible for ensuring that planning applications do not concrete over such facilities without like-for-like replacements.
There are other potential factors that could affect the Huish Park planning application, which was summitted in response to an initial set of plans dating from January 2012 which were ultimately withdrawn. However, this has remained one of the more black-and-white obstacles, with the first hurdle yet to be cleared.
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