Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Another Brent school 3G pitch application meets opposition

View of the Claremont site - the proposed 3G pitch will be on the grassed area lower centre

Kingsbury High School, Queens Park Community School and Claremont High School have all had plans to install floodlit artificial grass 3G pitches on their sites. The Powerleague proposal for Kingsbury High was withdrawn after a local campaign that cited environmental and social harm.  The interests of the local residents compete with those of the school. The Claremont Planning Application is HERE .

19/1388 | Construction of an additional floodlit artificial grass sports pitch and cricket practice facility with incorporated batting cages, installation of 12 floodlights, erection of high boundary fences with associated gates, formation of pedestrian access stairs and ramp. | Claremont High School, Claremont Avenue, Harrow, HA3 0UH

Roe Green Residents' Association have written to a senior Brent planning officer and councillors drawing attention to some of the issues.


The Roe Green Village Residents' Association in North West Brent (RGVRA) may not be directly impacted by what is going on at Claremont High School but RGVRA nevertheless has an important contribution to make to the planning process concerning this particular application.

We have great concerns over the impact this application represents to residents and the environment. We are also concerned that this application is being assessed prematurely and without all necessary facts being available.

RGVRA has been faced with an almost identical application by an Academy school in recent months. In assessing the application RGVRA and its consultants have learned a significant amount of information about the development and operation of installations of this type which applies to the application described in 19/1388 as well.

The overall impact such installation has on its surrounding area makes this application at Claremont High School entirely unsuitable for this site. Installations like these belong far away from any residential dwellings due to their significant environmental impacts such as noise and light pollution affecting neighbours 365 days of the year until late at night. This also concerns the transport impact these facilities generate on what are typically quiet residential streets.

Scrupulous developers and agents appear to have devised schemes to provide cash-seeking academies with free ‘upgrades' to their perfectly usable natural grass playing fields through funds such as the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) and the prospect of new revenue streams by hiring these out as entertainment venues to the public. 

Pupils tend to only have use of these new sports facilities for 35% of the time whereas the vast majority of the time these facilities get hired out for profit is to a narrow target audience of 18-25 year old male adults.

This is a recurring scenario running throughout the country. In Brent alone we have seen several of these applications in recent years. 
Brent Council needs to recognise that these facilities are not sustainable for the long term future of Brent and its residents. In fact these schemes are detrimental to community cohesion.

This particular application at Claremont High School appears to represent an intense over-development of the site.

Residents will not be able to defend themselves against the new and constant noise, light and traffic impact this scheme will create.

Brent Council needs to listen carefully to the concerns of the residents affected by this application. Brent Council also needs to ensure that both residents and the Planning Committee have access to all the facts that govern the impact of this application based on professional evidence.

This application comes without a noise assessment and without a transport assessment. These types of facilities are well-known for their excessive noise and traffic generation. It thus seems evident that this application is lacking crucial information. Without this crucial information it would seem impossible for anyone to assess the true impact of this application.

We also feel concerned that the ecological evidence available may not be receiving sufficient consideration.

Alison Fure, the author of the 'Ecology and Bat Survey Report' to this application, is a highly-respected ecologist and bat expert with a specialisation in light impact on bat behaviour.    Her findings and recommendations seem clear when her report states that ‘light curfews should be operated throughout the summer’ and that in fact ‘the new pitch should be used by the students from the school only’ which appears to suggest not to operate the facility past 4pm, i.e. school time.

Given Alison Fure's experience and expertise, we cannot think of any reason to question the ecology report’s findings or not take its recommendations seriously.

Furthermore, there are significant environmental impacts that do not appear to have been considered at all.

Within the Borough of Brent there are at least 150 artificial football pitches made of hazardous 3G rubber compounds. According to manufacturers' guidance, each of these pitches requires topping up with 2-3 tonnes of rubber infill throughout the year. This infill and its dust is toxic to humans and the Environment and, according to manufacturers’ guidance, may only be applied whilst wearing personal protection equipment.

Within the Borough of Brent alone, we thus have 300 - 450 tonnes of toxic material being released into the Environment every single year where it degrades further into ever finer micro-plastics that pollute our rivers and water supplies and enter residents’ lungs and our food chain.

Has anyone at Brent Council calculated the impacts this has?     Is there an impact assessment available of how many 3G pitches there are and the health and environmental impacts these represent?

The site of the proposed new pitch is directly adjacent to the Wealdstone Brook. The applicant has neither accounted for nor mitigated against the micro-plastics pollution this development will cause.

Brent has declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in recognition of our seas choking with plastic. Brent has committed itself to making Brent the cleanest, greenest borough in London.

As servants of the public and stewards of public resources Brent, therefore, has an obligation to ensure that these aims and commitments are upheld.

The Planning Committee and the residents affected by the sports pitches at Claremont High School must be given access to all the facts pertaining to the impacts of this planning application before this could possibly be considered,

We further request that Brent immediately puts on hold all planning applications involving 3G pitches until it has fully established the impact these have on our Environment and until it has completed an impact assessment on the current use of all 3G pitches in Brent and can assure the public that 3G pitches are compatible with Brent’s stated aims and objectives for making Brent the cleanest, greenest borough in London.

In the interim, Brent Council should instead focus on making more effective use of existing resources and help academies such as Claremont High School benefit from the 150 plus existing 3G pitches in the borough.


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