Website fault keeps pitch protest offline

21/6/2011'Astroturf is not wanted at Kitchener's Field, Berkhamsted.'Protesters, from left, Garie Fotheringham, Kate Spall, Sheila Robertson, John Parsons-Smith, Emmy Allen, and Meg Robinson
21/6/2011'Astroturf is not wanted at Kitchener's Field, Berkhamsted.'Protesters, from left, Garie Fotheringham, Kate Spall, Sheila Robertson, John Parsons-Smith, Emmy Allen, and Meg Robinson

PLANS to construct an astroturf pitch in the Green Belt have been submitted - but nobody can see them.

Berkhamsted School would build the site in Kitchener’s Field. Neighbours from Castle Hill Association oppose the plan.

It would include 50-foot floodlights and fences on a site just across the road from Berkhamsted Castle.

Plans are that the pitch, open to the public, will be used from 7am to 8pm on Monday to Saturday and 8am to 4pm on Sundays.

Berkhamsted Town Council will discuss the plan at a meeting on Monday - and wants people to submit their comments by noon tomorrow.

But the plans cannot be seen on the borough council website due to a fault it hopes to resolve soon.

They are at Berkhamsted Civic Centre, but CHA spokesman Kevan Debonnaire said people who work all day will not be able to see them there.

He said: “This is not the ideal way for an important planning application to be dealt with.”

The group says the site will create more noise, light pollution and danger on nearby roads.

In a 683-word response, the school denied this.

Principal Mark Steed said: “This is an important project for us.”

The full CHA statement is below:

Kitcheners Field Development; Application No 4/00875/11/MFA.

Application by Berkhamsted School to build a Floodlit Astroturf Hockey Pitch.

You may be aware that a planning application has now been submitted to the Dacorum Borough Council for the above proposed development.   This can be viewed at the Town Council which is in the Civic Centre in Berkhamsted, or online. 

There is a meeting on the 3rd October at the Civic Centre in Berkhamsted at 7.30pm when this application will be discussed.  We encourage as many of you as possible to attend this meeting.

Any comments that you wish to be aired at this meeting should be submitted to the Town Council, by the 29th September.

We have grave concerns over the proposed development, the main points include:-

Visual Intrusion:-  Excavation and despoilation of an AONB which is a draw of tourists to Berkhamsted who vitalise our local economy.

Noise impact; will increase noise and disruption to local residential area in particular after school, in the evenings and weekends. 

Light; Flood lighting in area of AONB and greenbelt, both in terms of light pollution and visual intrusion (Floodlights 50ft high approx)

Ecology Impact; Detrimental affect on local wildlife and their foraging paths. Animals effected includes (amongst others) bats, owls, badgers, toads, deer.   

Highway Safety; In a predominately residential area, the site is located on a sharp bending impeding road safety for all concerned.   

Road Access; Inadequate access and turning for coaches.

We would encourage you to object to this development, based on the above with your own views, in writing to Nigel Gibbs at Dacorum Borough Council at:-

Hemel Hempstead Civic Centre Marlowes Hemel Hempstead Hertfordshire HP1 1HH 

With a copy to Alan Kemp, Town Clerk at Berkhamsted Town Council at :-

Civic Centre

161 High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire HP4 3HD.

If you are unable to write individually, you can submit an online objection via the following link;

 http://www.dacorum.gov.uk/planonline/AcolNetCGI.gov?ACTION=UNWRAP&RIPN

You have to scroll down to ‘Public Representations’ and then

click on ‘click here’ , you then get an application comment form,

> click on the ‘click here’ again and you get a form you can fill in.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO ANYONE YOU FEEL WOULD SHARE THESE VIEWS.

Kind regards

COMMITTEE

CASTLE HILL ASSOCIATION

NOTES.

Planned Hours of use are 7am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to 4pm on Sundays.

The floodlights will be telescopic from just over 16 feet tall when down to just under 50 feet when extended.

Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead Hockey Club would use the pitch outside of School hours, whose stated aim is to sustain and increase the number of people playing hockey.

There would be wire fencing around the area – 3 metres (10ft) tall at the sides and 4 metres tall (over 13ft) at each end.

Most coaches and visiting teams would have to travel through Berkhamsted, the High Street and the railway arch to get to the site.

The school has alternative playing fields where this development could be done at the top of Chesham Road and Haslam Field which are on the South side of Berkhamsted – near the bypass, so traffic would be drawn away from the centre of town.

These alternatives are not in official designated AONBs and would have less impact on existing residents.

***

The full school statement is below:

“We’re committed to putting this much-needed facility in place as sensitively as possible. Features such as the proposed hedging and retractable lighting will preserve the look and feel of the valley,” says Mark Steed, Principal of Berkhamsted School.

“This is an important project for us. We don’t have a full size hockey pitch on the school premises and currently transport pupils to other venues such as RAF Halton for practices and to play matches. The travelling time to and from these facilities significantly reduces the time the hockey teams are able to train. We also don’t have access to a sprint track for athletics training and the pitch would provide winter training facilities for other sports, such as lacrosse, and an additional six tennis courts.

“As with many of our existing facilities, the school is willing to make the all weather pitch available to the broader Berkhamsted community.”

Mr Steed points out that the extent to which this will be possible depends to some extent on planning restrictions, in particular whether or not the lighting could be used during the winter months. The school has no plans to use the facility after 6 pm; but has applied for lighting to be permitted until 8 pm solely to allow greater scope for community use during the winter evenings.

“From the outset we acknowledged the concerns within the local community around a facility such as this, so we’ve consulted extensively with planners, local residents, and interested parties (Berkhamsted Cricket Club, Sport England) throughout this project.”

After consultation with the County archaeologist, a full archaeological survey of the area was carried out over the last six months and nothing of archaeological interest was found below or in the vicinity of the planned site.

The School considered all available sites for the pitch and selected Kitchener’s Field because it would not have to sacrifice existing, well utilised facilities; it is within walking distance for those pupils who would use the facility the most; it is further away from existing houses and roads than other playing fields; and there is adequate car parking at the site.

“The school has a long association with the Castle Hill Association, which we hope will continue, and we expect that Castle Hill residents, who already use our tennis courts at Kitchener’s Field, would benefit from access to the improved sporting facilities,” says Mr Steed.

The School responds as follows to specific points raised by the Castle Hill Association:

Visual Intrusion:  Excavation and despoilation of an AONB which is a draw of tourists to Berkhamsted who vitalise our local economy.

The location of the proposed all-weather pitch is not untouched greenbelt land but is land already in use as winter sports pitches and for athletics and cricket by the School and is the venue of local charity events and competitions.

Light; Flood lighting in area of AONB and greenbelt, both in terms of light pollution and visual intrusion (50ft high approx)

We have endeavoured to comply with local policies on lighting by cowling the lights to minimise overspill, limiting the operating times and proposing telescopic columns, which will only be at full height when in use, that will be screened by additional planting when lowered.

Ecology Impact; Detrimental affect on local wildlife and their foraging paths. Animals effected includes (amongst others) bats, owls, badgers, toads, deer.

We have had an ecological report carried out for the site and as part of our proposal we are enhancing the planting in the area surrounding the pitch, both to screen it and encourage wildlife (see attached report).

Highway Safety; In a predominately residential area, site access is located on a sharp bend, impeding road safety for all concerned.

We are not foreseeing a significant increase in traffic as we’re not increasing the facilities at the site; we are replacing one winter pitch with an artificial pitch

Road Access; Inadequate access and turning for coaches.

There will not be an increase in visiting teams as there will be no increase in facilities.