THE leader of East Staffordshire Sports Council has urged the Secretary of State for communities and local government to reject a controversial planning appeal.
George Fargher issued the plea to Eric Pickles after it was revealed that he would have the final say on the College Fields application in Rolleston, after a four-day hearing decided to uphold East Staffordshire Borough Council’s decision to refuse the planning application.
Mr Fargher told the Mail that he believed the plan should be axed and the land used to help boost sport in the area.
Mr Fargher said: “As chairman of East Staffordshire Sports Council, I think it should not be approved.
“Due to building on or near the site, we have had sports taken away such as netball, tennis swimming, cricket and football over the years.
“We feel, in the past, people have been deliberately stopped from playing sport on these fields over many years with the view of building on it.
“The field in question used to be a 400-metre running track and football pitches and as we have 3,000-plus young people playing football every weekend we are desperately short of pitches.”
A report is now being prepared by the Planning Inspectorate, which will be presented to Mr Pickles before he makes his final decision .
The borough council’s planning committee turned down the plans in November because they were in direct conflict with the village’s neighbourhood development plan, which is in its final stages.
The site, which was the field of the former Forest of Needwood School, is earmarked for development in the borough council’s emerging local plan.
Residents are worried it would cause huge traffic problems.