Plans to build a new 4G pitch at a city secondary school have been given the go ahead by councillors despite concerns about parking.
Yesterday (June 4), Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) area development control sub committee backed plans for the new sports facility at Southmoor Academy.
Sited between a tennis court and five-a-side pitch, the plans include eight 15 metre high floodlights and a three metre high boundary fence, with the pitch available to both the school and community.
Proposed opening hours include Monday-Friday, 9am-3pm, for Southmoor Academy and 3pm- 7.45pm by private clubs, with weekend use between 9am-5pm.
During consultation, councillors and residents raised concerns about impact on residential areas including noise, increased traffic and evening use of floodlights.
Although conditions were put in place to restrict this – including floodlights being switched off 15 minutes after hours of operation – councillors asked for reassurances around parking at the Sunderland Civic Centre meeting.
Coun Michael Dixon, of St Michaels Ward, raised concerns about the development in the context of existing parking demand on Queen Alexandra Road.
This included fears the 4G pitch could add to traffic created by Hill View Infant School and Sunderland Eye Infirmary.
Deputy leader of SCC and Hendon councillor, Michael Mordey, also raised concerns about parking “overspill” onto Ryhope Road, adding Hendon residents already have “problems with parking from sixth formers”.
A council report states that predictions of an additional 10-20 vehicles created by clubs hiring the 4G pitch was an “underestimation” and that measures should be taken to protect residential areas.
A planning officer, responding to councillors questions, added that a management condition could be imposed to encourage visitors to park on the school site.
This would include working with the Southmoor Academy to ensure that specific school access points are open or gated at peak times to reduce residential or on-street parking.
Sport England initially objected to the proposal due to lack of details of the construction, materials, pitch markings and light levels of the floodlights.
As the school aimed to appoint contractors after planning permission was granted, Sport England agreed to lift its objection subject to a planning condition.
Although plans were passed by committee, details of construction, surfacing, floodlighting and line marking must be submitted to planning authority before works can start.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service