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Division Affected: WatlingtonContact Officer: Alan Divall Tel: Oxford 815886PLANNING & REGULATION COMMITTEE – 12 SEPTEMBER 2011CHANGE OF USE OF LAND FROM PASTURE TO SCHOOLPLAYING FIELD, INTRODUCTION OF LAND DRAINAGE SYSTEM,FENCING, LANDSCAPE PLANTING AND INTRODUCTION OF NEWVEHICULAR ACCESS FOR MAINTENANCE AND EMERGENCYPURPOSESReport by the Director of Environment & Economy (Growth & Infrastructure)Location: Field to the north of Aston Rowant C of E Primary School, School Lane,Aston Rowant, Watlington, Oxfordshire, OX49 5SUApplication No: R3.0056/11District Council Area: South OxfordshireIntroduction1.This application seeks permission for the change of use of land fromagriculture to a school playing field for use by Aston Rowant Primary School.Physical works involve the grading and levelling of the field (including works toimprove drainage), the erection of fencing and landscaping to parts of the siteboundary and the creation of a new maintenance and emergency access.Location (see site plans)2.The village of Aston Rowant is located within South Oxfordshire, some 1.5miles to the north east of junction 6 (Lewknor) off the M40 and 2.7 miles to thesouth west of the village of Chinnor. The school is located off School Lanewhich serves the school site and a number of residential properties beforejoining a public right of way which leads to the village of Kingston Blount.Site and Setting (see site plans)3.The proposed site lies on the north eastern edge of the village and to thenorth of the existing school buildings and play area. The site is an open fieldapproximately 0.9 hectares in size currently used for grazing cattle. It isidentified as Grade 2 agricultural land. The site is not at present in theownership of the school or the County Council. Beyond to the north and eastis open countryside, again used mainly for pasture and the grazing oflivestock. Around the boundaries of the proposed site are a mixture ofhedgerows, ditches, stock fencing and mature trees. To the south west and

PN8north of School Lane are residential properties, the gardens of which backonto the application site. The dwellings on these properties range fromapproximately 10 metres to 70 metres in distance to the application site.4.The nearest dwelling is the Old School House (privately owned) which islocated in the centre of the school site and directly overlooks the applicationsite. This dwelling is approximately 5 metres to the south of the proposedplaying field. A narrow path runs along the northern boundary of this propertylinking the two sides of the school together. The school site, the Old SchoolHouse and the dwellings to the south west are located within the villageconservation area, the application site is not. None of the school buildings orthe Old School House are listed. The village is a low density settlement withdwellings set back from the road side. At the centre of the village is a largeopen area registered as a village green.5.The school site is accessed by pedestrians and vehicles from School Lane(an adopted road with restrictions for HGV’s) which becomes a footpath pastthe school. A public parking area available for use by visitors to the school islocated on the northern side of Plowden Park (a residential road with anumber of dwellings). This is approximately 50m to the south west of theschool. This provides spaces for approximately 12 cars.Background and Details of the Development6.The school propose a playing field which would be used for physicaleducation lessons, outdoor teaching and nature conservation enhancement.They say they need the playing field because the existing grassed area is notlarge enough to adequately serve all the needs of the children at the school.The present grassed area is approximately 1000sqm, this is below theminimum playing pitch requirement of 1,800sqm for a primary school of thissize1. The area is also leased and the school wish to have a playing field thatthey own to give them long term certainty over its use.7.The school have considered a number of options for providing additionalplaying field space. For example using Aston Rowant Cricket Club (see siteplan B) and facilities in nearby villages and towns. However the schoolconsider that the purchase of the adjoining field is the best solution for thembecause of its location and size.8.In addition to the change of use of the land the proposal involves:1 The grading and levelling of the field to make it suitable for the intendedactivities. No ‘cut and fill’ would be required, nor would material need to bebrought on or removed from the site; The installation of a new drainage system to ensure the field is usable allyear. At present the field suffers from ponding. The new system woulddrain to existing ditches around the perimeters of the site;Building Bulletin 99: Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects (Department for Education and Skills) jmktsz4z.doc

PN8 The erection of new fencing together with hedgerow planting in variouslocations around the perimeter of the site. This would include timber postand rail fencing approximately 1.3m high around the entire perimeter of thenew playing field. New hedgerow planting using native species along thenorthern and western boundaries of the field to provide visual screeningand wildlife enhancement. Wild flower areas would also be created in anumber of locations on the field; The creation of a new access for maintenance and emergency vehicles tothe field, this would be provided from School Lane via the school’splayground. At present access to the field lies in its north west corner butthe present land owner does not wish to make this access available to theschool; The creation of a new pedestrian access from the school site to the field toimprove access between the two halves of the school.9.Principally the field would be used during the school day for physicaleducation lessons, for outdoor play and teaching of the curriculum such asgeography, science and environmental studies – as happens on the currentplaying field. The formal playing pitch area would be laid out on the easternedge of the field away from the nearest surrounding properties.10.It would also be used for after school clubs (up to 5pm) and may occasionallyhost a match/activity with another school. At present the school attends twosuch matches in a school year. The annual sports day would be held on thefield and in order to accommodate additional parking for such events AstonRowant Cricket Club has agreed to allow the school to use their car park. Thecricket club is located some 450 metres to east of the school (see site plan B).There are no proposals to use the playing field for non-school activities.11.No hard surfacing or buildings would be erected on the field although storagesheds may be positioned on the southern boundary of the site close to theschool. Goal posts would be erected during the playing season. No floodlightswould be erected and parking for special events would not be permitted onthe field.Consultations12.South Oxfordshire District Council – No objection subject to thesubmission of a landscaping scheme.Aston Rowant Parish Council – No comments to make on the application.English Heritage – No comments to make on the application.Sport England – Support the application. jmktsz4z.doc

PN8Protected Species Officer – No objection, there would be no impact onprotected species and wildlife.County Forester – No objection subject to conditions to cover tree rootprotection zones being established around retained trees and the submissionof a method statement (s) for works within any tree root protection zones;Transport Development Control – No objection subject to conditions tocover: The school should update their Travel Plan to take account of thedevelopment; Details of earth works should be included in a Construction TrafficManagement Plan to reduce the amount of export and disposal of materialfrom the site; The playing field shall be solely for use of the school; The submission of a drainage scheme.Third Party Representations13.Both objections and comments in support have been received from a total of 8local/neighbouring residents who make the following pointsImpact on neighbouring properties Loss of privacy and increase in noise to the nearest residential properties. Concern about the future use of the existing playing field as it shouldremain open space.Impact on the existing village and surrounding area The village already has existing and proposed local amenities that canprovide adequate sporting facilities for all the needs of the school. The development is inconsistent with the rural and agricultural character ofthe village. The development would impact on an area of land that has ‘greatlandscape value’, it would not be sensitive to the character of thesurrounding area. The size of development is out of proportion with the size of the schoolthat it is intended to serve.Traffic and access The development would bring more traffic into the village, including fromsports events or out of school events. The existing village infrastructure is not sufficient to cope with adevelopment of this nature. There is no provision for additional parking in the application and currentparking difficulties could be addressed. The proposed vehicle access in School Lane is dangerous and obstructiveas this lane is too narrow. It is not suitable for access by tractors andemergency vehicles. The northern access point is far more adequate thanthe one proposed for School Lane. jmktsz4z.doc

PN8 Question whether School Lane would be used for construction works giventhat it is unsuitable for HGV’s.General comments Should permission be granted suitable conditions should be imposedwhich restrict the use of School Lane for vehicle access and the field forparking; limits the size of the field; restricts the erection of permanentstructures/buildings; no out of hours use or maintenance; improvedlandscaping and the use of consistent species and the works being carriedout during the winter to avoid impacting on wildlife. The development is unnecessary during a time of cut backs. Support the application as it will provide the opportunity to create a safegreen area for school sports events.Development Plan and other Policies14.Planning applications should be decided in accordance with the developmentplan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The relevantdevelopment plan documents are:Regional Spatial Strategy for the South East of England 2026 (SEP) - adoptedMay 2009, Policies C4, S3, S6, CC8.South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011 (SOLP). The relevant policies are asfollows: CF1, CF2, R1, R4, EP2, EP6, C1, CON7, T1, G2, G3, G4.15.The South East Plan (SEP) forms part of the Development Plan. However, theGovernment has made it clear that it intends to abolish regional strategies.Whilst this intention is a material consideration, legislation to achieve this is atan early stage of development in the parliamentary process and, therefore,the weight attached to that intention is limited accordingly.Planning Policy Statement – Planning for Schools Development (August2011) and Planning Policy Statement 7 (PPS7) – Sustainable Development inRural Areas are also relevant.16.All relevant policies are set out in the Policy Annex attached to this Agenda.Comments of the Deputy Director for Environment &Economy (Growth and Infrastructure)17.The key planning issues to be considered in deciding this application are:(i)(ii)(iii) jmktsz4z.docPotential impacts on local people.Potential impacts on the existing village and local environment.Traffic, access and highway safety.

PN8(i)Potential impacts on local people18.The development would change the nature of activity on this field fromlivestock grazing to formal and informal school play areas. There may beimpacts on nearby residents and/or neighbouring land uses.19.Policy EP2 of the SOLP seeks to protect existing occupiers from noiseassociated with new development whilst policies R1, R4 and CF2 support theprovision of new sport and play areas and community facilities provided thatthere are no overriding amenity objections.20.Objectors who live adjacent to the site argue that their amenity would beaffected by an increase in noise from activities on the field and from a loss ofprivacy as those using the field would be able to see into their property. Somehave also questioned whether further developments could take place on thefield and whether it would be used for parking, both during and out of schoolhours.21.Privacy may be an issue for those dwellings and gardens that overlook thefield. The application proposes hedgerow planting along part of the westernboundary of the site meaning that in time the playing field would be screenedfrom those properties to the west. I consider that this planting along with thedistance to the dwellings themselves (between 10 and 70 metres) wouldmean that there would be limited impact on these properties. Those dwellingsin closest proximity to the field in the south west corner (including the OldSchool House) would not benefit from this planting unless it was extended infront of these properties. I consider this is necessary to ensure that privacy ismaintained to these dwellings and to ensure that the playing field is wellscreened. This can be secured through an appropriate landscaping condition.22.In my view the use of the field by the school does not raise significant issuesin terms of noise given that activities on the field would be undertaken duringschool hours only. The formal sports pitch area would be located away fromthe nearest dwellings. There are no proposals for community or other groupsto use the playing field during evenings and weekends meaning any additionalnoise generated on the field would be during schools hours only which Iconsider to be reasonable. Maintenance of the field (mainly grass cutting)would be carried out on a weekly basis during the growing season but thiswould again be during school hours and for a limited time. The property mostaffected (The Old School House) is immediately adjacent to the existingschool site where activities such as physical education and outdoor lessonsand play already take place. The landscape scheme submitted with theapplication proposes a wildflower area on the field immediately adjacent to theOld School House. This wildflower area along with the additional hedgerowplanting mentioned in paragraph 20 would ensure children are not using theplaying field immediately adjacent to the Old School House.23.The applicant has expressed no intention to use the playing field for parkingor for other events or purposes. A condition can be imposed which restrictsthe use of the field to school use only. The development meets the criteria of jmktsz4z.doc

PN8policies EP2, R1, R4 and CF2 of the SOLP so I do not consider there to beany overriding harm to residential amenity by way of noise or visual intrusion.(ii)Potential impacts on the existing village and local environmentNeed for an additional playing field24.The school consider that this additional playing field is needed to improvesporting, recreational and learning facilities at the school and to addresscurrent deficiencies and bring provision up to statutory requirements.25.Policy CF1 of the SOLP states that proposals that result in the loss ofrecreational facilities or essential community facilities will not be permitted.Policy CF2 of the SOLP supports additional community facilities provided thatthere are no overriding amenity, environmental or traffic objections or conflictswith other policies in the plan. Policies S3, S6 and CC8 of the SE Plansupport the provision of additional educational, community and greeninfrastructure.26.Objectors argue that the village already has existing and proposed localfacilities that could be used by the school. They also comment that theproposed playing field is bigger than the size of a playing field that is actuallyneeded by the school.27.The playing field is intended to be used for school use only and would notcompete or threaten other facilities in the village that are more widely used bythe community. Therefore I do not consider that this development would leadto the loss of other recreational or community facilities in the village whichmeans there is no conflict with policy CF1 of the SOLP. Whilst other facilitiesmay be available in the village the school wish to have their own playing fieldwhich would give them long term security over its ownership and use. Theschool argue that taking pupils to other facilities in the village or further afieldis not a practical or efficient solution.28.The present school playing field is only 1000sqm in area, the statutoryminimum size for a playing pitch that the school should have is 1,800sqm.The proposal would enable the school to introduce a grassed playing pitch of2,400sqm. This would be above the minimum requirement of 1,800sqm butbelow the maximum recommended area of 2,775sqm for a school of this size.The remaining area of the playing field not used as a formal playing pitchwould be used for informal play and learning areas. In my view the need for alarger playing pitch at the school is reasonable. The size of the pitch proposedis within the maximum recommended size.29.In my view the school have a justifiable need for a playing field that canaccommodate a playing pitch that meets the statutory size requirements. Theoverall size of the playing field is considered acceptable given that (asdiscussed throughout this report) there are no overriding amenity,environmental or traffic objections. The location of the proposed playing fieldadjacent to the existing school also makes it a practical and convenient jmktsz4z.doc

PN8location and in order to serve an identified need. In my view the proposal fullysupports policies S3, S6 and CC8 of the SE Plan and does not conflict withpolicies CF1 and CF2 of the SOLP.Impact on the character of the village and the countryside30.The application site is on the edge of the existing village and not developed, inplanning terms it is therefore development within the countryside. The villageretains its own individual character and parts of it, including the existingschool site are within a conservation area. Policies G2 and G4 of the SOLPseek to protect the district’s countryside from adverse developments. PolicyC4 of the SE Plan and policy C1 seek to conserve existing landscapes.Policies R1 and R4 of the SOLP are supportive of improved supportingfacilities within the countryside and on the edge of settlements subject to anumber of criteria, including the protection of landscapes. Policy CON7 of theSOLP aims to protect the character and appearance of conservation areas.Objections have been received that highlight that the development is notcompatible with the rural character of the village and the surrounding area.31.Policies R1 and R4 of the SOLP are supportive of this type of development inthe location proposed. The development would not lead to an extension of thebuilt up area of the existing village into the open countryside as no builtdevelopment is proposed on the field.32.With the exception of grass being kept in a condition favourable to be used forsport and recreation and the erection of goal posts during certain times of theyear the visual appearance of the field will change very little from its presentstate. Timber fencing would be erected around parts of the site but visuallythis would not be out of place given that the surrounding area includes fieldssegregated by fencing of this nature. Hedgerow planting is proposed on partsof the site which again are consistent with the visual appearance of thesurrounding area. This planting would also seek to screen views of the site.33.The site is located immediately to the north and east of the villageconservation area. For the reasons already mentioned I do not consider thatthe development of this nature

PLAYING FIELD, INTRODUCTION OF LAND DRAINAGE SYSTEM, FENCING, LANDSCAPE PLANTING AND INTRODUCTION OF NEW VEHICULAR ACCESS FOR MAINTENANCE AND EMERGENCY PURPOSES Report by the Director of Environment & Economy (Growth & Infrastructure) Location: Field to the north of Aston Rowant C of E Primary School, School Lane, Aston Rowant, Watlington, Oxfordshire, OX49 5SU Application No: R3.0056/11 .

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