Vital plans for a Horsham college extension were backed by the council despite ‘red-tape’ objections from a national sporting body on Tuesday.
Dr Jackie Johnston, principal of the College of Richard Collyer, was delighted that Horsham District Council’s Development Control North Committee unanimously approved planning permission for a new two-storey extension comprised of office space and classrooms at the college site in Hurst Road.
Sport England, a body funded by the Government and the National Lottery to protect sporting provision in the country, had lodged an objection over the potential loss of ‘useable’ playing fields.
But David Holmes (LibDem, Horsham Park) labelled their objection as bureaucracy gone mad, while Dr Johnston told members that plans would result in absolutely no loss of sporting provision at Collyer’s.
She said that gaining planning permission was essential in case they wanted to apply for infrastructure funding if it became available.
“We need to be shovel-ready and for this we need planning permission. If we miss this opportunity it’s gone,” Dr Johnston said.
“If we cannot compete with other towns to bring better facilities to Horsham, it is the local population who will miss out. It is clear that Horsham is growing and we must respond to this.
“We have no intention of reducing our sporting offer at Collyer’s – indeed we have justappointed a Sport England funded sportsmaker, to enhance sports activity in the community.
“Our sole aim in applying for this new classroom build is to be able to improve facilities for future students.”
Single-storey buildings would be demolished to make way for the new U-shaped structure, which the school said would not encroach on any useable playing field.
The officers’ recommendation for refusal was based on Sport England’s objection, which states that should permission be granted, plans would have to be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit.
However, according to Dr Holmes, of the 500 cases referred in the last 12 months, only two had been overturned.
“This is bureaucracy gone mad,” he said.
“There’s a need for common sense here. We are all aware the college is a very important school and where we can in planning terms we do need to support its continuing development and expansion.”
Josh Murphy (Con, Horsham Park) said: “It’s very hard to see how this new development affects the play fields at all.”
Ian Howard (Con, Southwater) added: “Sport England wasting their time giving ad-hoc responses without considering the facts is ridiculous.”