Concerns over sports hall plans

PLANS for an 18,000sqft sports hall building are causing controversy in a small village.

Finborough School has submitted plans for the new multi-purpose sports facility to Mid Suffolk District Council. Great Finborough Parish Council approves of the proposal, but some villagers have serious concerns about the project.

The school has applied for D2 planning status, meaning the building would be used for assembly and leisure.

Gehan De Silva, from Great Finborough said: “It’s a commercial facility which should not be happening in a village community. The school is being used as a smokescreen to get D2 planning for public gatherings in a building the size of Tesco.”

The independent school is a Grade II listed building located on 13 hectares of parkland.

The building plans include a multi-purpose four-court hall to accommodate sports and PE classes. It would also house a small hall, a gym and fitness centre, changing rooms and toilets and equipment storage.

The school would also use the space for assembly, performing arts, teaching, production and some functions as well as making it available for community use.

Cllr John Matthissen said he was aware of the concerns of some residents and wanted to ensure that there were restrictions surrounding the use of the hall.

“If the planning application is approved we want the conditions surrounding the approval restricted, only allowing certain community use,” he said.

A statement submitted along with the planning application said: “The school has no dedicated indoor sports facilities at present and although the drama studio and orangery are both used for a limited range of activities, both are inadequate in terms of floor area and height for most indoor sports.”

The sports hall is based on the smallest available model which is supported by Sport England.

Giles Hill, Great Finborough Parish Council clerk, said: “We have no objection to the development and feel it has been sited in the best way. It will be against a back drop of trees.”

But nearby residents are concerned about being able to see the building and say that the size is excessive for a school with 271 students.

Mr De Silva said: “Why do they need a facility the size of Stowmarket leisure centre which caters for an entire town?”