Agenda item

DC/19/1149 - Christs Hospital School, The Avenue, Christs Hospital

Ward: Southwater North

Applicant: Christs Hospital Foundation


The Head of Development reported that this application sought permission for a number of additional sports and recreation facilities, car parking and landscaping in the vicinity of the Bluecoats Sports Centre, in conjunction with Christ’s Hospital school. 


This application was a re-submission of DC/18/1268, which had been refused by the Committee in January 2018 on the grounds that the benefits would not outweigh the significant landscape harm in a countryside location, and it would result in an adverse effect on the amenity of neighbouring residents by virtue of noise and light (Minute No. PCN/74 (08.01.19) refers).  The current application sought to overcome these reasons for refusal.


The application included the following:


·         Two storey extension to the west of sports centre to provide a new swimming pool, spa facilities, two class studios, fitness suite and enlarged café;

·         All-weather six-lane running track with floodlighting;

·         Outdoor exercise area;

·         Downgrading and closure of part of Infirmary Drive to sprint track;

·         3G Artificial grass rugby/football pitch with floodlighting;

·         Parking for 272 cars;

·         New access road from Christ’s Hospital Road;

·         Use of land to east to relocate spoil.

·         Landscaping, SuDS drainage system, fencing and lighting.


There were a number of differences compared to the previous application including:


·         Relocation and reduction in scale of Adventure Trail;

·         Athletics track lowered into the ground by half a metre, with scaled down spectator seating;

·         3G pitch moved further south;

·         Floodlighting revised to be controllable and minimise light spill;

·         2.5 kilometre running trail removed;

·         Eight fewer trees to be removed and enhanced tree planting;

·         SUDS pond removed;

·         More detailed Noise Assessment Plan and full Travel Plan, with restriction on large events to be limited to four a year and capped at 1,000 people.


The applicant would also fund a Traffic Regulation Order to reduce the speed limit on Tower Hill and Christ’s Hospital Road to 30mph and traffic calming measures to the west of the site.


The application site was located approximately three kilometres south-west of Horsham and was outside and adjacent to the built-up area boundary of Christ’s Hospital. It was grassland used for sports pitches in the summer months in the northern part of the school campus. The sports centre was used by the school and members of the public. The school itself included two groups of Grade II* Listed Buildings. There were a number of Grade II Listed Building residences nearby, and properties in Barnes Wallis Avenue and Bluecoat Ponds were close to the northwest boundary.


The Parish Council objected to the application. There had been 82 representations objecting to the application, including an objection from the Horsham District Cycle Forum and two objections received after publication of the report, and 37 responses supporting the application. 


Three members of the public spoke in objection to the application. The applicant, the applicant’s transport consultant and the applicant’s agent all addressed the Committee in support of the proposal.  The Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture address the Committee in support of the proposal.  A representative of the Parish Council spoke in objection to the application.


Members considered the officer’s planning assessment which indicated that the key issues for consideration in determining the proposal were: the principle of development; an assessment of the benefits of the proposal; impact on landscape and trees; design, layout and specification of the facilities; impact on the Listed Buildings; highways; and neighbouring amenity.  


Members discussed aspects of the proposal including: its impact on the highway network and neighbouring amenity, particularly during largescale events; the extent to which the facilities would be used by the wider community; the removal of trees; and the lighting of the athletics track.


Members concluded that the proposal had not overcome the first reason for refusing application DC/18/1268 and the cumulative impact of the development on the surrounding area would cause harm to the landscape character in this countryside location, and the benefits of the proposal did not outweigh this harm.




That planning application DC/19/1149 be refused for the following reasons:


The proposal results in significant landscape harm in a countryside location which is not outweighed by the benefits of the development.  The scheme is therefore contrary to Policies 25 and 26 of the Horsham District Planning Framework (2015).

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