Sports pavilion challenge fails

Posted: 8th October 2012

A neighbour opposed to plans for a new sports pavilion for a sixth form college in Cambridge has failed in a High Court challenge to the scheme. Richard Lyon had sought judicial review of Cambridge City Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the demolition of the existing pavilion, which was built in the 1930s, and construction of a replacement building on the college’s sports ground.

View over rugby pitchRejecting the challenge as unarguable, Judge Birtles found that that the scheme is not an ‘urban development project’ within the meaning of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 and that an environmental impact assessment was therefore not required before planning consent was granted.

Observing that the regulations are targeted at ‘infrastructure projects’ – such as the construction of shopping centres and car parks, sport stadiums, leisure centres and multiplex cinemas – the judge said: ‘I cannot see how in any true meaning of the construction of the phrase ‘infrastructure projects’ the construction of a small sports pavilion on a small sports pitch can be classed as an infrastructure project. This sports pavilion is a far cry from a sports stadium or a leisure centre.’

He said that the council was entitled to reach the view that the development was not likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size or location. ‘This was a lawful exercise by the council of its planning judgment and its conclusion that the proposal would not lead to any material intensification in the use of the sports ground and would not significantly worsen the existing access situation is unimpeachable,’ he concluded.

The council had granted planning consent after finding that neighbours’ concerns regarding noise and disturbance were insufficient to justify rejection of the college’s proposals. The judge’s decision frees the college to proceed with construction of the larger replacement pavilion which will have changing facilities for both sexes, a team room, visitor facilities and a changing area for officials.