Larkhall Football Club Pavilion, Plain Ham, Valley View Road, Charlcombe
The proposed site of development is Larkhall Football Club, situated within the Green Belt, Cotswolds AONB, and indicative landscape setting of the World Heritage Site as well as the Charlcombe conservation area to the west. The site forms part of the wider west-east slope from Woolley Lane with views out to the east over the Larkhall area of Bath, although it is noted that the site is strategically screened with tree planting along the north and east sides of the pitch. There are already floodlights installed on the pitch, although there doesn’t appear to be a history of planning permission associated with the current installation.
BPT previously commented in response to refused application 22/02044/CLEU. We had, and continue to have, questions regarding material considerations associated with the proposed resurfacing of the existing football pitch, such as increasing requirements for associated infrastructure (eg. increased lighting), intensified use with resulting increases in traffic along narrow lanes (eg. Valley View Road, Woolley Lane, Charlcombe Lane), and elongated hours of use into the evening. The application form indicates that proposals would enable “football to be played throughout the year.”
We maintain that associated consequences of the proposed change of use need to be considered in relation to impacts such as longer periods of floodlight use and intensified use of the site on long-distance landscape views and the visual amenities of the AONB and Green Belt. As yet there is an absence of relevant details and there does not appear to be a D&A Statement submitted as part of the application. Further information would help to clarify these points, such as the existing and proposed hours of floodlight operation and any associated seasonal restrictions.
There is no clarification as to the visibility of the pitch itself both in the immediate locality or in wider landscape views, and how the proposed resurfacing works may affect or change the pitch’s appearance in rural views across the Green Belt and AONB.
We recognise that the proposed installation of a synthetic pitch would improve the durability of facilities and minimise maintenance, with the intention of providing a higher-quality sports facility for the local community. However, we highlight growing environmental and health concerns with synthetic pitches associated with the leaching of microplastics. We trust this will be appropriately considered where relevant by the case officer and ecology officer.