Kings Macclesfield sought to develop a new school with extensive sports facilities, accompanied by residential development. But during the planning process, Sport England expressed concern about the scheme’s impact from removing playing fields across the site.
To make the case for this development, Tetra Tech Planning undertook a sports needs assessment (SNA). After securing planning permission, Tetra Tech was retained to discharge the planning conditions, which included delivery of a community use agreement and sports development plan.
Demonstrating Community Need
Our work focused on demonstrating the need, benefit and sustainability of a proposed six-court sports hall, dedicated cricket hall, six-lane swimming pool, gym and dance studio, plus improvements to Artificial Grass Pitch provision and pavilion.
The key issue was to demonstrate a community need for the proposed indoor and outdoor sports provision. It had to be clear how it would function and how its benefit to community sport would outweigh the loss of playing fields.
Making the Case
In accordance with the Sport England Assessing Needs and Opportunities Guidance (ANOG), we assessed the quantity, quality, accessibility and availability of competing provision in the catchment, demonstrating the unique role of Kings. Extensive consultation with national governing bodies and potential user groups was also undertaken to make a well-rounded case for development.
The assessment concluded that under paragraph 97 iii) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Sport England Playing Fields Policy exception E5, the development of proposed indoor and built facilities outweighed the loss of 1.4ha of playing fields. As such, the proposal complied with planning policy, the NPPF, and the Sport England’s Playing Field Policy.
Cheshire East Council therefore granted planning permission in 2017 for construction of a new Kings School to comprise classrooms, libraries, and sporting facilities plus playing fields and various associated outbuildings, infrastructure, car parking and access.
The development was subject to various conditions set out in the decision notice, one of which required that a Community Use Agreement prepared in consultation with Sport England be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority prior to first use of the sports facilities.
Tetra Tech later provided support to discharge this condition and develop a Community Use Agreement (CUA) and Sports Development Plan (SDP) for the school. The CUA and SDP were prepared in consultation with the relevant National Governing Bodies of Sport and sports clubs. These documents now provide the usage framework for the school, which successfully opened in October 2020.