Tuesday, July 27, 2010

War games centre plan gets council approval

PLANS for a war games centre have been given the go-ahead by planning chiefs despite objections from nearby residents.
Airsoft Skirmish CentreEast Staffordshire Borough Council’s planning committee passed the application for the Airsoft Skirmish Centre at the former barracks, in Stubby Lane, Marchington, by a majority vote of eight.
The decision on the application, submitted by Shawn Sowter, has been a long time coming after it was submitted in December.
It went before the committee in March but the decision was deferred after it was decided that more information was needed on the noise impact.
In April the application was withdrawn following concerns over the impact on protected species in the area, chiefly bats.
Speaking at the meeting, Ms S Fulford asked the committee not to accept the plans saying she was speaking on behalf of all the residents as there was no independent noise survey carried out.
As well as concerns about noise, she also spoke about protected species living on the site.
Ms Jillian Peto also told the meeting that the plans were totally inappropriate for the area and said that residents’ human rights had to be taken into consideration. She said that vandalism on the site had been exaggerated to support the application.
Mr A Rice, the agent for the applicant, said no further delays would be accepted as his client had agreed to ‘a number of compromises’.
He said that the council’s experts had accepted the plans and had said it would be unreasonable to object on the grounds of noise.
Councillor Robert Hardwick expressed concerns about barn owls and great crested newts that could be living on the site.
Other councillors were also concerned for wildlife living on the site and the impact on neighbours.
Councillor Trevor Hathaway said the games centre would only be used 28 days of the year, which worked out at one day a fortnight, between 10am and 6pm.
Therefore, he said it would not be that much of a disruption to the wildlife and the noise was not excessive.
Councillor David Brookes, chairman of the meeting, said: “We could find better use for this site as I do not think that this is appropriate.
It has been derelict for the best part of 30 years.”
Planning delivery team leader Jo Roebuck said it was a fine balance with arguments on both sides and the five-year approval gave the opportunity for this impact to be reassessed.

The plans were approved with the conditions set out by the planning officers which include pyrotechnics limited to a maximum sound level of 70dB when measured at five metres, no more than 60 people in a game and the submission, approval and implementation of a bat activity monitoring scheme.

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