A hockey club have been told to look elsewhere for a new home after plans for a new floodlit astroturf pitch and clubhouse were turned down.
Members of Chiltern District Council’s planning committee were told the future survival of Amersham and Chalfont Hockey Club was at stake when they considered proposals to build the new facilities on green belt land next to Amersham and Wycombe College’s Stanley Hill campus.
And although members expressed sympathy for the club’s plight, they said the site was unsuitable for use for the new development and emphatically rejected the plans.
The club is currently based at the former Bucks New University campus at Newlands Park in Chalfont St Peter, where work on a new housing development is due to start shortly. Plans for sports facilities have been included, but it is not expected to be usable for another five years and the hockey club said it desperately needs a new permanent home.
Peter Collins of the Lincoln Park Residents’ Association – the housing estate closest to the site – told committee members on Thursday: “This area represents the last access to green space in Amersham Common.”
He said the artificial light from the floodlights would be “seen from miles away” and described hockey as a “fringe sport, whose numbers are in steady decline”.
But club chairman Peter Rowlins said Amersham and Chalfont is the second biggest sports club in the district, with 600 members, and had the fourth largest junior section in the country, with 500 youngsters members of the club.
He said: “There are no other usable facilities in Chiltern district. If there were, we would have had those. There are no sites that aren’t green belt.
“The survival of the second largest sports club in the area is at stake. There’s a looming crisis, and the reason why it [the plans] was put together with the support of the council is we are running out of time to have a pitch.”
He added the pitch would not be visible from Lincoln Park, the lights would not be able to be seen from the front door of anyone’s property and any extra traffic generated would no “negligible”.
Pam Appleby, the former councillor for Amersham Common who asked for the application to be called in prior to the local elections, said: “It can’t be right two thirds of the field should be reserved for one group of people. It must be left alone for all of us. This is the only place left for children to run, play and picnic.”
And when the plans were put to the vote all but one of the members chose to refuse the proposals, with one abstention.
Cllr Nigel Shepherd said: “I’d like to support this club and ideally see it in Amersham, but I can’t agree [on this location] – it fails on almost every condition, and I regret having to say that.”