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Where’s our replacement pitches?

Created on 13/04/2019 @ 15:37
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Powys County Council has come under fire for failing to replace the sports fields it is building the town’s new primary school on.

Local sports clubs were up-in-arms when Powys announced that the Salop Road fields, which were used for a variety of sports including athletics, cycling and football, would make way for the new multi-million pound Church in Wales School and its sprawling car park.

The issue was raised at the County Council’s planning committee meeting, when the regional authority asked the committee if work to improve sports facilities at the High School needs a formal planning application or could be done under a sports improvement works.

Planning officer, Kate Bowen, said: “There are two existing Multi Use Games Areas (at the high school) that are used for football, netball and basketball and there is also a grass pitch improvement area that is programmed as part of the works.

“There is also a cricket area for practising as well and this is all at the back and side of the school. This is an unusual application asking members for confirmation that the proposed works actually benefit from permitted development rights and do not require a submission of a formal planning application.

“So they are seeking a legal certificate that they don’t require a planning application.”

Ms Bowen added: “All the works do fall under the permitted development rights to local authorities and therefore do not need planning permission. We are recommending that the certificate is granted.”

But Welshpool Councillor, Phil Pritchard, highlighted the frustration felt in the town and said: “There’s two sides to this story and I’ve been involved for three-and-a-half years. While I gladly support it (the recommendation) and propose it, I have to make the comment: the reason for this is that PCC is building two new schools in Welshpool. As a result of that they have taken the ground and four football pitches away from Welshpool.

“This has stopped five young teams of eight, nine and 10 years of age being able to play football.”

Cllr Pritchard, a member of the Football Association of Wales, said that the community had been “up in arms” over the decision with the promise of other land for football pitches yet to materialise.

Cllr Pritchard added: “Our education department made promises and this application should have been on the table two years ago in readiness of what they were planning.”

Councillors approved the recommendations.

Building work on the Welshpool Church in Wales School, which was supposed to open in September, has stopped since the collapse of Swansea-based construction firm Dawnus.

And the conversion of the Maesydre listed building for the Welsh medium school, Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng, is also in limbo until new contractors are appointed by PCC.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter
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