Agenda item

South Ribble Borough: application ref LCC/2022/0048 Proposed cricket facility comprising 2 no. cricket ovals and associated pavilion building and spectator seating, covered cricket nets, access, parking, landscaping and associated works (including temporary event overlay facilities on ticketed match days), and realignment of public rights of way. Land at Woodcock Estate, Stanifield Lane, Farington, Leyland


A report was presented onan application for a proposed cricket facility on land at Woodcock Estate, Stanifield Lane, Farington, Leyland. The proposals comprised 2 cricket ovals and associated pavilion building and spectator seating, covered cricket nets, access, parking, landscaping and associated works (including temporary event overlay facilities on ticketed match days), and realignment of public rights of way.


The report included the views of South Ribble Borough Council including Environmental Health, Farington Parish Council, National Highways, LCC Highways, the Environment Agency, Lead Local Flood Authority, United Utilities, Sport England, Jacobs UK Ltd (Ecology comments), the LCC Landscape Officer and LCC Historic Environment Service. Sixteen representations objecting to the application had been received along with three representations in support.


Committee's attention was drawn to the Update Sheet which included an amendment to the Recommendation to refer the application to the Secretary of State, due to the floorspace of the building exceeding the 1000 sq metres threshold outlined in the legislation, and various amendments to the conditions proposed in the Committee report.


The Development Management Officer presented a Powerpoint presentation showing a site location plan, detailed location plan of the nearest residential properties, an air photograph, general layout plan, views of the site looking south with and without the development, visualisation of the pavilion and cricket ovals looking south east, visualisation of the pavilion building, car park and nets facility, and section through the pavilion/nets area. Photographs were also shown of the view looking north across the application site, view across the site towards Fowler Avenue, view from Fowler Avenue towards the proposed pavilion/nets area, view across the site from no.6 Fowler Avenue and view northwards along Stanifield Lane towards the site access.


The Chair drew Committee's attention to an error on page 33 of the Committee report on the first bullet point of South Ribble Borough Council's comments which should have read:


·  'The development should not result in inappropriate development within the Green Belt and consideration as to whether the pavilion would be exempt under National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and Local Plan policies.'

Mr Peter Francis, a local resident, addressed the Committee and made the following points:


'The law states that Green Belt land and openness should be maintained and the building of the pavilion, raised bungs and viewing sites do not support these principles. It is highly likely that a function venue/restaurant/public house would not have received planning permission on Green Belt land and the developers have indicated they will be seeking to use the venue for a minimum of 50 days per year, on top of the 20 days per year for cricket reasons. I have just heard a further amendment to that for further events and this does not meet Green Belt criteria at all; the pavilion is not conducive with Green Belt planning laws. We have submitted alternative plans for re-siting the pavilion to face east, rather than west. The building could be moved to the other side of the oval pitches and adjacent to the car parking areas, moving it further away from properties on Fowler Avenue, whilst maintaining a good distance from the Woodcock Estate. This would negate the reason for service roads and maintenance roads. The English County Cricket Board concerns around safeguarding children would be addressed in this instance. The parents would be using the main car park sited off Stanifield Lane and the location of the practice nets would be within sight. A further point on safeguarding is if Lancashire County Council or the Cricket Club are saying that children are not safe unless they are up against the pavilion, then they should not be anywhere on site if their safety cannot be guaranteed. Noise and light pollution are a particular concern; noise levels created by 5,000 spectators will be vast. The developers report states that noise levels will be acceptable, acceptable to whom? The constant use of the practice nets by the community will also bring excessive noise levels. Use of the car park alongside the pavilion will create a situation where vehicles are travelling down the service road with headlights shining directly into properties; no control measures are in place on the service road. At no point have residents said that we do not see the benefits of this community development but consideration of various things have been refused, e.g. triple glazing to be installed on affected properties at minimal cost, given the cost of the development. A number of properties have conservatory roofs directly facing the ovals which creates a risk to people using them, especially children.'


Ms Mary Bamber, a local resident, addressed the Committee and made the following points:


'The service road should have dry stone walls between the road and the properties affected. Practice nets to be re-sited to the originally proposed position, alongside the public car park. The bins to be repositioned to underground or the other side of the pavilion, alongside Lancashire County Council's property. Consideration to be given to lower the height of the spectator embankments or to deny public access at the top of these embankments; people stood on the top could look directly into my bedroom. A concrete agreement was needed to say that a public address system and floodlights will not be allowed either temporarily or permanently in the future. Reasonable opening hours at the pavilion for non-cricket reasons were needed. Limited access to the pavilion car park – players and staff only via a barrier system. The road surface of Fowler Avenue to be re-laid and maintained if access is agreed for a service entrance from Fowler Avenue, to be used for the farm buildings owned by Lancashire County Council at 3 Fowler Avenue. A turning point at the top of Fowler Avenue for vehicle access from the A582. Noise levels to be set at a maximum of 10 decibels above current levels. Landscaping and tree planting to be agreed with residents. Properties to be cleaned or painted externally after the building work is completed. Consideration to be given to protect Fowler Avenue, an unadopted road, from traffic, which could be achieved by a barrier system. If planning permission is granted, no work should commence until all avenues of appeal are exhausted, including submissions to the Secretary of State and legal challenge including judicial review. Although it is within planning guidelines to cut down the trees in the area, to cut down 100 year old trees protected by preservation orders before the appeal process is exhausted would be legal but immoral.'


The legal officer read out a written representation from Mr Tony Willetts, a local resident:


'Tony & Diane Willetts owners of 2 Fowler Avenue. Our property will be opposite and only 30/40 metres away from the proposed development especially the pavilion, practice nets and the refuse bin will be opposite our living room. We have lived at our home for over 36 years, during that time we have only ever been surrounded by the natural greenbelt; a home to cows and sheep including all the wildlife especially hedgehogs and rabbits. We have been very lucky so we were shocked to hear of the proposed cricket pitch and clubhouse. Having said that, we are not opposed to the development as we are aware that it is possibly a good thing for Farington Moss and surrounding areas including young children and the youth of today. 


For us, it's about damage limitations as to how it will affect our lives in the future so we would like to reach out to you, the committee, to take on board the comments which we have listed, and hope you can help to alleviate our concerns, and with your help make things better because at the moment nobody seems to be listening or helping in any way.


The pavilion/clubhouse will be the closest to us and will produce noise seven days a week, and will not only host the cricket games there will be all sorts of events weddings, funerals, birthday parties etc carrying on seven days a week all year long.


The practice nets are another major concern as regards disturbance and noise; this again will be used on a daily basis. It has to be stated and was also mentioned in the environmental report the fact that it will be surrounded in acoustic sound proofing; the developers are aware of the noise levels it will create. These nets need to be moved as far away as possible from all residents. The Cricket Association says they have to be there for safety reasons regarding the children - if that's so, are we to assume the rest of the site is not safe?


The refuse bin located opposite our living room is totally unacceptable as regards smells and vermin, never mind the noise of bottles etc being tipped in at all hours of the day. We propose that it is moved to the opposite side of the pavilion at the end of the road network opposite the farm owned by Lancashire County Council. We think it's only fair that Lancashire County Council have some of the burden which this development is going to descend on all residents of Fowler Avenue.


The access road which will be built crossing all our properties is also totally unacceptable as that too will bring noise and pollution. It is stated in the plan that it will only be used by staff; well it will be used also by refuse and draymen providing drinks and removing rubbish, never mind parents picking up and dropping children off for practise at the nets, and last but not least the amount of taxis bringing and picking up people for the events at the clubhouse. We appreciate the clubhouse needs access by some sort of service road but it must be at an acceptable level and some things have to be addressed - noise and pollution levels including lighting and car headlights intruding into residential properties, these things cannot be over looked and ignored.


The surrounding mounds on which people will stand to watch the cricket are as high as the second storey on all residents properties.'


County Councillor Green, local councillor for the application site, addressed the Committee and made the following points:


'I am, in principle, in favour of the development, but raising some concerns on behalf of the local community. The development of a new county level cricket facility is significant for the local community in Farington and for the whole of our county, providing a second centre of excellence for Lancashire County Cricket Club. In particular, it will create a regional centre for women's cricket and an opportunity for young people in the area to develop their skills in first class facilities, and there would be opportunities for residents of all ages to get involved by playing or watching, which will assist in promoting healthy and active communities. The first test for this development to pass, however, is that the facilities are to be located in the Green Belt. I personally believe that our Green Belt is of significant importance, as I'm sure all members of the committee will agree, any potential harm to the openness of the Green Belt must therefore be clearly outweighed by other considerations. The points which I've made above, together with the centre location, good access to public transport and the Strategic Highway network, are all considerable benefits, and I note that the planning officers concluded that very special circumstances are demonstrated to justify the location of the development in the Green Belt.  Nevertheless, I do welcome the matter now being referred to the Secretary of State for comments subsequent to this meeting, if it is approved. A big issue with this application is the siting of the practice nets and the proximity to residents on Fowler Avenue. This is a regrettable change to the original proposal put forward and is stipulated by the cricket authorities in order to ensure adequate safeguarding for young people. Noise attenuation measures have been put in place and are welcome. I also welcome the recent strengthening of the noise management control condition to carry out the testing at the outer perimeter of 6 Fowler Avenue. Nevertheless, I have discussed possible ways to increase the distance between the nets and the residents, including moving the car park to the other side of the nets. However, I've been advised that would not have been helpful as it would have actually result in noise attenuation measures being less effective in stopping noise from the practice nets. I therefore asked for the times the nets could be used to be reduced further, and I'm pleased that the applicant has now agreed to the end time being 8:00pm.

The bin store has the potential to create noise as well, as we've heard from neighbouring residents, and would also ask for that to be restricted from 9.00pm to 8.00pm. Conditions regarding the use of the pavilion will need to be enforced rigorously, in order to protect residential amenity and access to the car park to the West of the pavilion needs to be dealt with. I'm pleased that we've got a new condition now to look at stopping people coming down there and that needs to be done by either physical barrier or automatic number plate recognition, or some means to actually control it so that we don't have people coming in and out, taxis in and out, and having an impact on residents. With regard to highways, I welcome the addition of the pedestrian crossing on Stanifield Lane; I would encourage this to be signalised and I welcome the new footway to the north. With regard to construction commencing at 7:00am, I would ask you to consider whether that is too early.'


Mr Paul Allott, supporting the application, addressed the Committee and made the following points:


'I've been involved with Lancashire cricket as a player and more recently as Director of Cricket for over 45 years. Lancashire Cricket are working with Lancashire County Council to deliver a much needed, elite quality facility to complement and alleviate capacity issues that we now experience at Emirates Old Trafford. We are now duty bound to provide playing and practice facilities for all our senior men's and women's teams, our Academies, England test and one day matches and for the four week long 100 tournament; Old Trafford can no longer accommodate this. Because of these added demands, all our teams are in desperate need of a high quality first class training and playing facility away from Old Trafford. Farington, with its two grounds, nets and practice area, would provide the ideal centre for much of Lancashire cricket, increasing requirements and much more besides. The cricket complex at Farington will also become a centre of excellence for women's cricket in the North West, which will be a trailblazer for women's and girl's cricket in this country. Additionally, the ground will be used by youth teams, both boys and girls, disability and community teams, amongst other community use. The facility also has the backing and support from the England and Wales Cricket Board. This two ground complex at Farington with its centrally situated main pavilion to the west has been carefully designed to give all round visual access to both grounds, and it's close proximity to the net area is essential in order to conform to England and Wales Cricket Board safeguarding, with particular reference to the junior and disabled users of the facility. The design and positioning of the pavilion is fundamental to the successful operation and appeal of the complex. The new facility will also help our Lancashire Cricket Foundation, the charitable arm of Lancashire cricket, deliver a number of the England and Wales Cricket Board's nationwide cricket programmes, such as All Stars, cricket and Dynamos, to the aspiring youth of the local Lancashire community. Herein lies the aim of increasing participation in the game of cricket, with the associated benefits for health, fitness and well-being that will come from this. Lancashire Cricket are highly experienced at staging major events with minimal disruption to the local communities. This is especially relevant to our current outground matches staged within the residential areas of Liverpool, Blackpool, Southport and Sedbergh venues, that are finding it much harder to provide the necessary infrastructure and support for the modern game. We have implemented at Farington, to recognise our responsibility to protect the amenity of neighbouring residents, the restrictions of use which have been agreed in terms of the number of ticketed match days, and the hours of operation for the pavilion and the nets, will also assist in this respect. We have also successfully operated a neighbour involvement and notification scheme. Whilst this facility would undoubtedly benefit Lancashire cricket, it is also notable that there are a number of wider local and community benefits, which the council and their agents will no doubt elaborate on separately.'


Ms Susie Stephen, agent for the applicant, addressed the Committee and made the following points:


'This application represents an exciting opportunity to deliver a high quality sports facility which provides a much needed second home for Lancashire cricket within Central Lancashire, whilst also providing a valuable community resource in an area where there is no deficiency from a planning perspective. As Mr Haine explained, the proposal needs to be very carefully considered, given the site's position within the Green Belt, an area of separation and the adjacencies of nearby residential dwellings. In relation to the Green Belt, the use proposed is generally allowed within Green Belt locations. Furthermore, the approach to the design and layout of the facility has sought to maintain openness across the site and minimise visual impact. For example, sinking the pavilion building into the landscape, so that only the upper view floor appears visible from the majority of views, and likewise the proposed nets also sit at a lower level relative to Fowler Avenue to the west. Having regard to residential amenity, various options for how the site could be laid out were considered, in seeking to minimise potential impacts on neighbouring residents, particularly along Fowler Avenue, the Woodcock Estate and Sherdley cottage. Having regard to the site's own constraints alongside the very specific requirements of the England and Wales Cricket Board, the proposed layout represents the only feasible layout option. Impacts have been appropriately mitigated where necessary, either through the design of the scheme or via a range of operational conditions. These include a limitation on the number of high attendance events, limitations on the hours of operation of both the pavilion building and the adjacent net facility, and the use of management plans on match days and the management of noise levels within the pavilion. The application has been subject to detailed pre-application engagement with Lancashire County Council's planning officers, Lancashire County Council as highway authority and Highways England. There are no sustained objections from statutory consultees and the proposals have been found acceptable on all planning policy grounds, including Green Belt, highways, nature conservation, flood risk, drainage and amenity considerations. Overall, the proposals represent a rare opportunity to deliver a number of very important benefits, not just limited to those derived by Lancashire cricket, but also including enhance access to cricket and high quality facilities, including for schools and community use, which will lead to greater levels of participation in the sport; education and community events; multiple benefits to individual health and well-being associated with increased levels of participation in sport and leisure induced by the facility; a valuable community resource and job creation at both the construction and operational stages; an improved image for the county arising from the investment by and presence of a major elite sporting brand; increased tourism to Central Lancashire with associated economic benefits for the tourism industry and related sectors and substantial planting of trees and enhancements and the local biodiversity within the site, with net gains across all habitat areas, including a substantial 58% net gain in area units.
Consistent with the officers views, the significant benefits of the proposal are considered to outweigh any perceived harm.'


The Chair reported that the Committee had undertaken a site visit on 24th February and that all papers, including any objections and comments in support of the application, had been carefully read and that Committee Members took their duties very seriously.


The Chair agreed with County Councillor Green's comments around the use of the bins being restricted to 8.00pm.


Following a lengthy discussion, it was reported that the ovals would be below current ground level and therefore the top of the banking would not be much higher than ground level, so the overlooking onto residential properties should not be an issue. Extra landscaping would be provided on the back edge of the banking, to try to limit where people could stand and their views into the back of properties. Committee were assured that these concerns could be addressed through the conditions in detail at a later stage. Furthermore, part J of Condition 33 required for revised details for boundary treatment and landscaping to the rear of nos. 5 and 6 Fowler Avenue.


In relation to restricting bin use, it was noted that the bin store was quite close to no.6 Fowler Avenue. The applicant had confirmed that the store would be enclosed within fencing and was at a lower level to the ground. Although Condition 21 stated that the bins should not be used after 9.00pm, in order to reduce the noise impact on residents, this time could be brought forward to 8.00pm.


The Committee were informed that the distance from the central wicket to the boundary of the houses would be approximately 140m, so the potential for cricket balls hitting properties and outbuildings was unlikely, due to both the distance and the difference in elevation.


County Councillor Holgate referred to the 1000m of hedgerow needing to be removed and stated that, as applicants were encouraged to include biodiversity net gain within any proposals, there needed to be a specific condition for the hedgerows to either be replanted on site or planted off site, with a commitment to replace the whole 1000m. County Councillor Holgate raised concerns in relation to Condition 34 on the Update Sheet which proposed to exclude trees T21 and T22 from the tree protection condition, and asked if these trees could be retained and made part of the feature of the cricket ground.


It was reported that there was a major issue of impact on the site in terms of biodiversity loss as the hedgerows and trees have wildlife linked to them. In terms of policy, at the current time, the only obligation was to seek biodiversity net gain, where this was appropriate. However, it was noted that this would change in November 2023 when the Environment Act would come into place, where obligation would be to seek a minimum of 10% biodiversity net gain. The applicant had carried out a full biodiversity assessment and their conclusion was that, in terms of losses and benefits of the landscaping scheme, there would be a significant biodiversity net gain which officers considered sufficient for this to achieve at least 10%. There would be some diverse habitats on site which would seek to offset some of the impacts of this development.


In terms of the trees T21 and T22, these were right on the edge of the embankment so the applicant had said it would be very difficult to retain these in practice, given the change in land levels in that area. The trees could be de-stabilised as the land would be lowered to create the ovals which may affect the provision of a safe and quality playing surface. The applicant had sought to increase the amount of planting, by planting on the boundaries and would seek to replace some of the existing vegetation. Furthermore, Condition 32, required provision for bird nesting boxes, bat boxes, hibernacula, log piles and wildflower seed mixes and Condition 33 required a revised landscaping to be submitted to the County Planning Authority for approval in writing, which included a number of provisions including a planting plan for trees, shrubs and hedgerows and translocation of existing hedgerows. Between Conditions 32 and 33, officers were confident there would be significant biodiversity net gain over time.


In relation to a question about changing places toilets, it was confirmed that the toilets on the ground and first floors of the pavilion building would comply with the obligation within the Disability Discrimination Act requirements to provide toilets for those with disabilities.


It was confirmed to Committee that there would be no floodlighting on the pitches; the only lighting would be on the pavilion building and the covered nets area, to allow for winter use, and bollard lighting on the access road and car park.


Following the discussion, it was Proposed and Seconded:


"That planning permission be granted subject to the application being referred to the Secretary of State and it being confirmed that the application will not be called in for determination, and subject to the conditions set out in the Committee report and the Update Sheet, with an amendment to Condition 34 to include the protection of trees T21 and T22".


Upon being put to the Vote, the Motion was carried.


It was further Proposed and Seconded:


"That Condition 21 be amended to restrict the use of bins to the hours of 10.00am to 8.00pm and that a roof structure be provided for the bin store".


Upon being put to the Vote, the Motion was carried.



That planning permission be granted subject to the application being referred to the Secretary of State and it being confirmed that the application will not be called in for determination, and subject to the conditions set out in the Committee report and the Update Sheet, with the following amendments:


(i)  Condition 34 to read:

" No felling of trees or removal of vegetation shall take place until the trees numbered T59, T60, T61, T21 and T22 together with the hedgerows edged in green on drawing UG-1016-ARB-TRP-01rev 05 within the amended Arboricultural Impact Assessment have been protected by fencing or other means or demarcation which shall be retained in position throughout the duration of construction works."


(ii)  Condition 21 to read:

"Any waste or recycled materials shall not be emptied into the refuse bins located to the west of the pavilion building before 10.00 hours and after 20.00 hours on any day, and a roof structure should be provided for the bin store."


Supporting documents: