SPORT lovers and residents are opposing plans to build up to 142 houses on playing fields off Sealand Road.
Chester and District Football League is annoyed at proposals for Clifton Drive which would see the loss of four football pitches and a rugby pitch used by the Chester Gladiators rugby league side.
Residents are worried because the land, leased and also used by the University of Chester, is in a flood plain and they also fear roads and the sewage system would not cope.
The outline application, promoted by Satnam Planning Services, comes after Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) agreed to sell an adjacent field for a supermarket subject to planning permission.
Paul Graham, secretary of the local football league, said of the plans: “It’s shocking. We have got two teams down there who have played there for many years. It’s the spiritual home of the Waggon and Horses team and the Greyhound.”
Paul said there was a lack of decent pitches around because the local authority did not have the money to maintain them properly.
Asked where the teams, who pay £50-plus per game in rent, could play instead, he responded: “I really don’t know. Blacon has more than 16,000 people but it has not got a local authority pitch that we can use.”
Owned by Bark Street Investments Ltd, the playing fields have been used by the university for years. The plan is to relocate improved sports facilities closer to teaching and residential sites at Kingsway campus.
Labour Cllr Reg Jones, on behalf of concerned residents, said: “That will improve the offer for the students but it’s not creating additional facilities, we are losing facilities for local teams.”
Cllr Jones is also worried Clifton Drive can’t take the volume of traffic and fears the impact of building in a flood plain and on the sewage works which is already at capacity. He has called on Tory-controlled CWaC to conduct a development brief for the area, especially given the supermarket plans, but says he has been ignored.
The applicants say the loss of playing fields would ‘not materially affect the level of existing and projected provision’ as determined by an up-to-date local authority audit.
Their development will include public open space including a play area as well as a buffer zone between the new housing and existing homes on Sealand Road.
Environment Agency officials have agreed to mitigation measures to ensure homes are flood free. The proposal seeks to improve the highway network so there is no impact on the existing infrastructure. And there are no problems envisaged at the waste water treatment works.
A University of Chester spokesperson said: “Improving and enhancing the student experience is at the heart of the university’s mission and ensuring that first class, modern sporting and recreational facilities are readily accessible to students is therefore significant in its business objectives.
“Satnam is the promoter of the proposed development of the Sealand Road site, and has responsibility for preparing and submitting the planning application and its negotiation through Cheshire West and Chester Council. The university’s occupancy of the Clifton Road site would terminate to permit the development.
“The Clifton Drive scheme involves provision solely of family housing and the agreed relocation of the existing sports facilities to a more appropriate university site, which has been under discussion between Satnam and the university for some time and forms part of the university’s overall sports and recreation strategy.”