Tuesday, 30 August 2011

MUGA Battles

Residents of the Chalkhill Estate, and particularly local youth, have recently protested that the Council has dropped plans for a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) in St David's Close.  They see this as an important facility for young people in the area who lack such provision. The Council claim that there were never any plans for a MUGA on that site.

Meanwhile, just up the road residents near Preston Manor High School are protesting about plans to build a MUGA in the school grounds as part of the changes associated with the construction of a primary school on the site. This MUGA will be floodlit and that is the aspect particularly vexing the school's neighbours.

The planning committee originally attached a condition to the planning application that would prevent harm to local amenities from light spillage. The Council is now seeking a 'non material' variation that would allow 'restricted light spillage' to neighbouring gardens.

Residents are concerned about how late the MUGA will remain open and worried about noise.  They claim that the plans are a result of pressure from Sports England to compensate for the playing field space lost through the building of the primary school. They suggest that a sports centre for secondary pupils has been smuggled through on the back of the primary expansion with residents kept in the dark (not for long!). They suggest that a grassed area for primary school pupils to play on would have been a much better use of the space.

MUGAs are a great resource and I support school facilities being open out of hours for the community but there are clearly issues around whether this facility is of the right type in the right place. It is important that the Council, school and local residents engage in a dialogue to find a solution that is satisfactory for all parties.

No comments: