New sports centre plans to go ahead

A sports and community centre, including a pavilion, football pitches and recreational facilities, is set to be built on Westfield Down.

Westfield Parish Council's application to renew existing planning permission for the Main Road site was approved last Thursday, despite the plans attracting more than 53 letters of objection from residents.

Members of Rother District Council's planning committee were supportive, though fears were raised about the impact of floodlights.

The parish council's current plan, which must now begin within three years, is for two football pitches - one senior, full size pitch, with floodlighting, and one junior mini pitch. They also plan for a cricket pavilion, car parking, and recreational facilities.

Cllr Carl Maynard, leader of Rother District Council and ward member for Main Road, told the planning committee: "There's no-one in the village who does not want to see a successful cricket club and football club, but one wonders how far that would go.

"I make no apologies for being quite robust on the issue of floodlighting. One of the pitches is proposed to be floodlit. Quite clearly in a village without streetlights, floodlighting is going to be a major concern.

"All I would say is that so this authority isn't spoken of in bad terms, we could impose a set of floodlighting conditions. I think it's quite an important issue."

And Cllr Joy Hughes agreed: "We must be more aware that this is a village, and villages are very careful about their light pollution. If we are going to have floodlighting it must be the right sort."

Case officer Richard Wilson said there "clearly is a desire to have floodlighting for a pitch", but that any floodlight structures would need separate planning permission, expected when the development progresses.

No further floodlighting conditions were added, but a note at the end of the existing conditions explains permission does not authorise floodlighting.

Other objections to the scheme mentioned by residents included increased traffic, the impact on a nearby badger sett, the loss of arable land and that the development could be out of keeping with the village.