The Chairman introduced the final application of the evening, application number 143099, for change of use from a sports pavilion to therapy centre at South Kelsey Cricket Club, Caistor Road, Holton Le Moor. The Committee heard from the Planning Officer that Ward Member Councillor T. Regis had wished to lodge his approval and support for the application and had submitted the following statement: “I appreciate Caistor Cricket Club’s opinion as a duty to Sport England however the reality is that the field is no longer used for anything other than left fallow and will remain so. This application will enable a use again for this area and will help to support WLDC in our plight to continuously grow the economy.”
The Chairman noted there was one registered speaker and invited Mr Richard Alderson to address the Committee. Mr Alderson made the following statement.
“Good evening Chair and members of the planning committee. My name is Richard Alderson and I am the agent for the applicant, Gail Hyman. The application which is recommended for approval is for the change of use of a disused cricket pavilion and grounds at Holton le Moor to an indoor and outdoor therapy centre to provide counselling and therapy services to children, young people and adults. The site was selected by the applicant because it offered a private setting and a beautiful location eminently suitable for delivering therapeutic health to improve the mental health and general being within a rural community.
The applicant Gail Hyman current currently operates an online therapy service for vulnerable people from her home in Middle Rasen. Mrs. Hyman also works with young children at the Rainbow Preschool Nursery which is sited at Caistor Primary School where she is the manager. This follows 20 years of experience working in childcare, often involving working with children requiring support for additional needs. Mrs. Hyman was given the opportunity to take the tenancy of an area of land atop the moor, which was formerly the Lysaghts Sports Club Cricket Club pavilion and field. The tenancy also includes part of the adjoining woodland to the northwest of the pavilion as you saw on the map.
The application attracted a lot of interest and support from local people, as well as general observations from others. When the application was first mooted in a pre-application, the case officer raised various hurdles to be overcome if the proposal were to have any chance of approval. All of these points have been addressed to the satisfaction of the case officer. Outstanding issues for him came down to highways and the change of use of a community facility. The Highways objections were overcome by changing the site access from a potentially dangerous location to one that represents no hazard to the highway. A planning condition requiring a traffic management plan to request all visitors to the centre to use the entrance and access as shown in the application plans is suggested by the Planning Officer.
Sport England have objected to the loss of a cricket facility on the grounds that although out of use for many years, may be needed at some time in the future. On the applicant’s behalf I canvassed opinion from all the controlling bodies for cricket in Lincolnshire, but received no response from any of them. At the request of the case officer I contacted Caistor and Market Rasen cricket clubs explaining the objection from Sport England. Caistor Cricket Club supported the view of Sport England, but Market Rasen Cricket Club did not considering that there were ample facilities provided out Market Rasen and Caistor. Caistor currently fields three senior teams and four junior teams while Market Rasen have seven senior teams and three junior teams. Both clubs are currently advertising on their websites that they are looking for more players to use their existing facilities. Interestingly, the England and Wales Cricket Board ECB felt it could be economically unviable for cricket to return to the site and also said that most of the cricket demand in the area is already met by Caistor and Market Rasen.
The officer’s report states that one community facility is being replaced by another and that the social and economic benefits associated with the Therapy Centre led him to state the proposal is acceptable in principal. He found that all the relevant policies in the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan were met. Granting permission for this change of use will also result in the former pavilion being refurbished and brought back into use.
I'll close with the words of Gail Hyman the applicant, ‘I'm just so passionate about this. Outdoors and green spaces enhance our wellbeing just being there, the perfect location. I respectfully ask members to support the officer’s recommendation.’ Thank you very much.”
Note: Councillor D. Cotton declared a personal interest in that he knew Mr Alderson, however he did not know the applicant and was not compromised in his position as a Committee Member.
The Chairman thanked Mr Alderson for his comments and, with no further comment from the Officer, invited the committee to discuss.
There was discussion regarding the loss of the cricket ground, tempered with the improvement the proposed change of use would bring. A Member of the Committee enquired as to how a commercial venture could be considered a community facility and the Officer explained that whilst it was a commercial venture, it would be providing a service for the community and in terms of planning policy, the proposal was for a community facility.
Members of the Committee expressed concern about the loss of the sports facility and whether this would set a precedent, however, other Members were quick to highlight the length of time the site had been out of use, the work that would be required to bring it into use, and the improvement the proposal would bring to the site and local area.
Having been moved and seconded, the Chairman took the vote and it was agreed that permission be GRANTED subject to the following conditions.
1. The development hereby permitted shall be begun before the expiration of three years from the date of this permission.
Reason: To conform with Section 91 (1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).
2. Development shall proceed in accordance with the following approved drawings:
Floor plan showing proposed usage
Reason: For the sake of clarity and in the interests of proper planning.
3. Prior to the first use of the development, a traffic management plan shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. It shall contain details of how the site operator is to inform all visitors to the site of the need to use the vehicular access/egress to the north of the Hope Tavern, the designated parking area, walking route to the pavilion and that the access/egress to the south should not be used in the interests of highway safety. Operation of the site shall proceed in accordance with the approved details.
Reason: In the interests of highway safety in accordance with Policy LP13 of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan.