Schools

School’s plan for new full-sized artificial pitch is “totally inappropriate”, say residents

By David Prior at

Local residents say a plan by Altrincham Grammar School for Boys to build a new full-sized football and rugby pitch is “totally inappropriate” for the area.

The school has submitted a planning application for a 122m x 80m artificial grassed pitch – to be located on an adjoining playing field – that it says will alleviate a current shortage of outdoor sporting facilities and allow for more sports lessons to take place during the school day.

But residents close to the site – which is bordered by Heath Road, Seddon Road, Cecil Road, Blenheim Close and Pheasant Rise – argue that the new facility is too big for the location and will create noise and light pollution that will be “really disturbing”. The plans include the installation of six 15-metre floodlight masts.

Over 50 objections have already been lodged against the application, including from 82-year-old Jean Barlow, who lives on Heath Road.

Jean Barlow, of Heath Road, overlooks the playing field where the pitch would be located

She said: “We have lived in our house for over 40 years and love the green space around us. The size of this proposed development – and all the noise and floodlighting of adult sports until late into the night – is really disturbing.

“This is just not appropriate for quiet, residential cul de sacs like Heath Road and Seddon Road. I feel quite threatened by it all.”

Most of the houses on Heath Road and Seddon Road were last year incorporated within the Hale Station Conservation Area owing to their historical and architectural significance to the area.

Another local resident on Heath Road, Hayley Aston, said the proposed pitch and floodlighting “just doesn’t fit with the area”.

She said: “We have no shielding from what will be an eyesore – our house looks directly out onto the fields. What is more, for six months of the year the trees around the playing fields which might have offered some screening will be bare so during the winter months the new pitch will be a ‘beacon’ for all the houses near it on Heath Road, Seddon Road and Cecil Road.”

A map showing the proposed location of the artificial grassed pitch

And Simon Denyer, of Seddon Road, said the new pitch would “more than double the noise and intrude on the privacy of many more houses”, adding that it was “totally inappropriate for the area”.

A local scout group, 3rd Altrincham Scout Group, which has been based in the school playing field grounds for over 100 years, said its four-times-a-week meetings would also be affected.

“The new pitch will block access to the fields which are frequently used by the various scout and guide groups for putting up tents, nature hunts, backwood cooking and various games,” said Rosemary Howell, a volunteer for 15 years at the scout group.

“It will also make crossing the road so close to the perimeter fencing very risky for the youngest children.”

An overhead view of the site, showing the location of the proposed pitch and proximity to local residents

Residents have also complained of a lack of formal notification of the planning application by Trafford Council, and that no residents have been actively notified or invited to a residents’ meeting by Altrincham Boys Grammar.

“I knew nothing about it til I bumped into a neighbour,” said Phil Huggon, a resident of Heath Road for 20 years.

“Shouldn’t something like this be really clearly communicated up front to all affected parties or ideally a consultation held well before any plans are drawn up?”

The school, which has an existing, smaller 3G astroturf pitch, said the new facility would be available for use by the local community for around 32 hours a week during term time and 76 hours a week during holidays.

A visual of the proposed new pitch

It said the school currently had no floodlight training facilities for football and rugby, and that 35% of school football and rugby matches were cancelled each year due to unplayable pitches.

It said a number of local sports clubs, including Bowdon RUFC and Altrincham Kersal RUFC, had already indicated they would wish to use the facility.

In its planning statement, the school added: “This is a community proposal with the school at its heart. It will provide an outstanding facility for a significantly sized local community which comprises a top ranked host school, a wide spread of community sports clubs and residents with an enthusiastic commitment to sport.”

Comments can be posted on the application until the end of May by emailing development.management@trafford.gov.uk and stating your name and postal address, or via the website www.trafford.gov.uk/planning/search-and-track (application 90945/FUL/17).

Altrincham Grammar School for Boys