Walsingham Planning has secured planning permission for Sport England and Serco for sports lighting on the existing 3G artificial grass pitch at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre.
Following a refusal of planning permission in 2015 for the sports lighting, Walsingham Planning was appointed to take a fresh look at the refusal and assess whether a reapplication would be worthwhile.
The site is a highly sensitive one. It includes the Grade 1 Listed Abbey building, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is located within an Area of Special Landscape Importance, Conservation Area, Green Belt and within Flood Zone 3. The setting of the River Thames and residential amenity were also sensitive issues.
Walsingham Planning discovered an undersupply of 3G pitches in the local borough and appeal cases which supported the proposal. Public consultation was carried out and a much improved scheme including a needs assessment, retracting lighting columns with a lower maximum height, the latest LED lighting technology, reduced hours of use and a landscape restoration scheme was submitted.
The application was approved at committee against strong local opposition. However, the end result will provide sports lighting with limited impact on residential amenity and the surrounding historic assets. The development will bring significant benefits to the local community, creating supply where it is needed, as well as allowing site to maintain its status as a nationally important sporting centre.