Ciderspace News Page : Yeovil Town Win Lufton Planning Application Appeal
31 December 2017 : Yeovil Town Win Lufton Planning Application Appeal
Yeovil Town Football Club have won their appeal against the planning decision issued against their application to build a recreation ground in Lufton. The original plans were submitted in June 2015, but due to a number of delays with the application were only put before the planning committee in September 2016, with the application being turned down. The club eventually decided in March 2017 that they were going to appeal against the decision, with the Planning Inspectorate taking on the case.

The Planning Inspectorate responded on December 28th 2017, confirming that they would allow the application to go ahead. Planning Inspector Robert Parker visited the site on September 4th 2017, and has subsequently concluded that the club now have permission to provide a "change of use of land from agricultural to community playing field and recreation use along with pavilion, associated access, replacement field accesses and car parking".

This planning application is wholly separate from the club's currently mothballed August 2015 plans at Huish Park, and does not have any direct bearing on those plans, which have not moved in any serious way since October 2015. However, it has been widely assumed that the provision of the two football pitches in Lufton would ultimately be used as attempted leverage to allow the club to dispose of the two top pitches behind the away end at Huish Park - a requirement under the National Planning Policy Framework. However, the scope of the Lufton planning application does not consider this, meaning that at this stage the club do not know whether it will remove that barrier.

The appeal decision sets out a number of factors regarding the case, of which the most significant are:

1. Yeovil Town Football Club and Yeovil Town Holdings Ltd have made an application for costs to be recovered from South Somerset District Council, as a result of the appeal. This will be a separate decision.
2. The Planning Inspectorate has not considered whether this application is beneficial to the Huish Park application : "There is some suggestion that the proposal is intended to replace existing pitches belonging to Yeovil Town Football Club at Huish Park. Any debate over the suitability of the appeal scheme as a replacement for these (Huish Park) facilities should be had in the context of an application for development at that (Huish Park) site".
3. Wessex Water has finished installing a water main across the Lufton site. this may need to be diverted at the club's cost.

The Planning Inspectorate have provided a number of Planning Conditions that should be inserted against the application - tasks that the club must fulfill as part of the execution of the plans. Some of these were already proposed by SSDC, but the Inspectorate has altered the wording on a few to make them more enforceable. These are as follows:

1. General conditions on the external design and materials used for the pavillion and equipment store, along with the submission and implementation of a scheme for landscaping and tree protection.
2. The future responsibility for surface water drainage, and overall maintenance must be provided, to prevent problems with flooding and surface water run-off. There must also be provision for foul drainage from the pavillion area.
3. To reduce the risk of crime and anti-social behaviour, the site must install security lighting, whilst buildings must incorporate design features to make them resilient to attack. There must be management of the access arrangements, including a height barrier and the ability to prevent vehicular access at night.
4. The construction of the access to the recreation field must meet Highway safety standards. An existing access point, close to the residential Red Brick Cottage must remain to allow access to that property's private drainage system, but must be secured at all other times, to prevent normal public access.

5. Sport England (part of the national Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) require the playing field and pitches to meet an acceptable quality. The Council must have written approval of a Management and Maintenance Scheme for the pitches, and a Community Use Scheme. This is to ensure that the site is not only built but is subsequently maintained.
6. The Change of Use of the land under planning regulations is for it to be used for sports only (along with any supporting infrastructure). This comes under Class D2, which covers all entertainment and leisure. The planning condition will limit the usage to sports only, which will prevent it being used for any other Class D2 activities such as bingo halls, concert halls etc. Widening of the scope would require a new planning application.
7. The site will need to be inspected for any archaeological remains before the work commences.
8. The site will need to be inspected for any badger setts within the site, along with any mitigation measures required once the survey is completed.
9. The overhead electrical wires that cross the site must be redirected or grounded, unless it can be demonstrated that they do not pose an unacceptable risk.

It should be noted that Planning Permission is merely the option to develop the site - it does not guarantee that the development will go ahead. Planning Permission is normally time limited to around a five year period - if it is not followed through then it will expire. The club can wait for a decision on the Huish Park planning application before following through, or can start working satisfying the above conditions immediately, to enable the development.

At the time of the club's initial application, it was revealed that the club did not currently own the land at Lufton, but had agreed the option to purchase that land. The Planning Application does not consider the commercial terms between the club and the land owner.


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