Plans to replace derelict tennis courts with a bowling green and pavilion have been met with unanimous support by the district council’s planning committee.
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council planning committee met on Thursday, July 17, at its headquarters in Stockwell Street, Leek, to decide on plans to construct a new floodlit artificial grass bowling green, clubhouse and car park, with security fence at St Lawrence Recreation Ground, Congleton Road, Biddulph.
Speaking in support of the application Sue Higton from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Property Services, said: “The tennis courts have been derelict for many years and this will tidy the site up considerably and replace the bowling green which was lost with the town’s Sainsbury’s development.
“It meets all the needs and aspirations of the bowlers and we have taken on board all the comments and concerns raised.
“It will be a fully accessible and sustainable long term facility.
“There are concerns about floodlighting, but I assure that it has been deigned to create minimal overspill and use will be limited.
“The intention is for it to remain under Staffordshire Moorlands District Council ownership, but it will be managed by the bowlers.
“The grassed area will remain open to the public along with a footpath to the cemetery.
“We have received tenders for this scheme already so we are ready to go within a few weeks of consent.”
Alan Holdsworth, representing Biddulph Bowling and Recreation Club, added: “We have been campaigning for this for seven years, ever since Sainsbury’s took over the old establishment.
“Since this site was chosen we organised a petition with more than 350 signatures in support, as well as getting support from the Potteries and District County Bowling Association.
“The town council is in favour, along with the local residents’ association.
“The construction of the all weather surface brings the potential of bringing county competitions to the town and further recognition.
“The development of the pavilion will also allow us to introduce indoor bowling and other activities to encourage young people and the disabled to use the club.”
The planning committee approved the application with 10 to zero in favour.
Councillor Linda Malyon said: “This is an excellent proposal and I fully support it; it will give so much to so many people.”
Councillor Ron Locker said that the artificial bowling green is a first for the Staffordshire Moorlands.
He added: “I like the idea of the pavilion providing facilities for people with special needs, not just bowlers.
“They have waited long enough for this opportunity and I’d love to see it when it’s finished.”
Councillor Mike Bowen said: “It’s well needed and will be the reinstatement of a facility to provide enhanced opportunities for the town.”
Councillor Mike Worthington added: “I’m pleased about the indoor bowling for the disabled, I’m not aware of anywhere else in the district which does that.”
The application had been recommended for approval by the council’s planning officers, subject to conditions.
It was supported by St Lawrence Church, St Lawrence Pre-School and Biddulph Town Council, which stated: “It is long awaited, most welcome and long overdue.”
Some neighbours did object claiming: “The design and access statement is misleading in that the site is not derelict; the tennis courts have become unusable due to lack of maintenance.”
A further representation raises objections in respect of operating hours; excessive use of floodlighting; loss of green space utilised by local people; there has been a massive reduction in green space in the north ward over the last few years; proposed overspill car park would be located on a grassed area that is used for recreation, which is viewed as a health and safety issue, and, minimum hedgerow heights should be stipulated to minimise the impact to neighbouring properties.