Councillors clash over plans to build new 3G football pitch at Brookfield Community School

COUNCILLORS argued over granting planning permission for a 3G football pitch at Brookfield Community School.

By Toby Paine
Friday, 21st January 2022, 8:01 am
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 8:22 am
Brookfield Community School is getting a new 3G pitch
Brookfield Community School is getting a new 3G pitch

Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee originally refused the application but after deliberations, it was approved on a second vote.

Concerns about noise, light and microplastic pollution were raised by residents and councillors.

A 3G pitch or third generation synthetic surface uses artificial grass fitted with a performance infill or ‘rubber crumb’ used as a shock absorbent.

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The UK Health Security Agency commented on the application stating that there is little concern over the performance infill with regards to personal health.

The Football Foundation advised residents at a community engagement meeting that there are no cost-efficient alternatives to using the infill.

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Councillor Katrina Trott dismissed the guidance: ‘Just because all these bodies say there are no health concerns doesn’t mean that there aren't going to be health concerns.

‘There’s so much microplastics in watercourses now even from clothes being washed they’re finding that out.

‘Just because they say it’s safe doesn't mean it is and I know I'm going to be a voice crying in the wilderness and I am going to object on this ground.’

Councillor Connie Hockley agreed: ‘We’re talking about being a council that's going to green and all the rest of it.

‘I think in this application and any application sent before us, we should consider the environmental impact.’

However, councillor Ian Walker, chairman of planning, argued against the concerns: ‘The responsible bodies here have made comment and my feeling is this is more to do with the noise effect.

‘It’s taking a balance between creating a sports facility for our kids, are we putting them in danger with this rubber crumb effect? According to the experts no.

‘My thoughts are, and I'm going to be highly unpopular with the local residents, it works in Portchester, that’s years old.’

Before the initial vote, Cllr Walker added: ‘If you are going to refuse this you better have some good reasons, I'm telling you, I'm looking at all of you.’

The first vote saw the application refused five votes to four, and the chairman asked each councillor to justify their refusal.

Cllr Trott said: ‘I’m concerned about health and environmental health and as I said in my earlier submission, just because all those people say it’s ok doesn’t mean to say that in future it will be.

Cllr Walker replied: ‘Are you telling me that you don’t want any 3G football pitches anywhere?’

Cllr Trott answered: ‘I regret to say that on the basis of what I've been learning over the last 6 months, yes, I think it’s been a mistake.’

After deliberations and frustrated exchanges, the chairman said the committee doesn’t have ‘a prayer’ in winning the appeal if they refuse.

The committee agreed to a second vote and it was approved with five votes in favour.

In a deputation, headteacher of Brookfield Community School, Stuart Parkes said: ‘From my perspective the benefits of the provision for us are huge - we haven’t got the facilities, it will make a massive difference to our students, to our community as well.

‘This is all about making sure that we get as many youngsters involved in sporting activities as much as we can.’

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