Cockburn’s sports pitch plans approved, despite local concerns

Cockburn School
Cockburn School in Gypsy Lane Beeston – 21st century building. Photograph copyright Humphrey Bolton and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

Revised plans for an all-weather artificial sports pitch, changing facilities, eight lighting columns and fencing at Cockburn School in Beeston have been approved in principle by councillors – despite concerns from some local residents.

Following local opposition earlier this year Cockburn withdrew its initial plans to revamp its playing fields, which would create a full-size artificial pitch for use by the school and the wider community to the rear of houses on the neighbouring Southleigh Estate.

Residents were worried about disruptive late night light from the proposed floodlights and noise on the pitch that could be used up to 10pm, seven days a week.

However councillors on the South and West plans panel this afternoon approved revised plans, subject to a number of conditions successfully being met by the school, and delegated the final decision to the council’s chief planning officer.

In revised plans the pitch has been rotated 90 degrees and relocated on the other side of the playing fields to minimise the impact on residents. The pitch surface is now a multi-purpose surface which can accommodate football, hockey, handball, volleyball, winter athletics, tennis and cricket.

Speaking at the Leeds Civic Hall meeting, director of community relations at Cockburn, Peter Nuttall, said the school had benefited from a multi-million pound rebuild that left it with “21st century buildings but 19th century sports facilities” which were inadequate for pupils.

Mr Nuttall said current playing fields were susceptible to flooding, and that the facilities, which would be used mainly by the Cockburn and its feeder schools, would enhance the current school curriculum. He added:

“We need to build on the Olympic legacy and help keep Leeds and Yorkshire at the top of the Olympic league table for future generations.”

Revised plans also include slightly different hours of operation, with the facilities closing at 9pm each night instead of the originally proposed 10pm.

The revised proposals still met with local opposition, with 16 letters of objection on the revised scheme and 49 letters of objection and two signed petitions to the previous scheme.

Local resident Stuart Scott of neighbouring Southleigh Grove spoke at the meeting and feared the light from the pylons would still affect residents whose homes back onto the fields. He also feared it would attract ‘undesirables’ to the area and lead to vandalism and anti-social behaviour, disruption and noise and called for the plans to be rejected.

Conditions on planning approval include the school putting together a binding plan to manage the facilities, samples of building materials to be approved, lighting restrictions and a c0nstruction management plan.