One of Hove’s biggest schools has been granted permission to replace part of its playing field with two hockey pitches.
Blatchington Mill, in Nevill Avenue, will also put up 12 floodlights, each 60ft high, around the all-weather artificial pitches.
Permission was granted at a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee at Hove Town Hall.
Play will have end by 9pm on weekdays, 8pm on Saturdays and 7pm on Sundays and bank holidays. The application asked for the pitches to be in use from 8am to 10pm.
More than 320 people wrote in support of the application which was made in conjunction with Brighton and Hove Hockey Club.
Objections came from 135 people, almost all of them living in the neighbouring streets, Holmes Avenue and Nevill Avenue.
Their main concerns were about the floodlights, potential noise and the loss of a grass playing field and with it the opportunity to play sports such as rugby and cricket.
Some of them were concerned that the set up would be more like a commercial venture than a school site.
Councillor Jayne Bennett, who represents Hove Park ward for the Conservatives, welcomed the desire to provide more and better sports facilities.
But she said: “These pitches would be in the wrong place.”
One of the school’s neighbours, Clive Tinkler, is a lighting engineer who cast doubt on the information given to councillors about the visibility of the floodlighting.
Along with fellow Holmes Avenue resident Melanie Roberts, a school teacher and Blatchington Mill parent, they spoke on behalf of opponents of the scheme.
Hangleton and Knoll Conservative councillors Dawn Barnett and Tony Janio also spoke out against the plans.
Fellow ward councillor Brian Fitch, who represents Hangleton and Knoll for Labour and lives next to the site, wrote a letter of objection.
Another letter of objection came from Green councillor Alex Phillips, who represents Goldsmid.
She said that the pitches would replace 40 per cent of the only green space available for 1,700 pupils at lunch and break times at the school.
She described it as “essentially an income-generating commercial initiative for the school”.
Jim Browning, deputy head of Blatchington Mill, said that all-weather pitches would enable more PE lessons to take place outdoors.
He said that waterlogging regularly limited use of the field and that the artificial pitches would overcome the problem.
He added: “We will also share the pitches with other schools in the city.”
Cameron Heath, the hockey club’s development officer, said that the light spill into neighbours’ properties would be less than the moonlight from a full moon.
Planning committee member Councillor Amy Kennedy said that the full moon could be very bright indeed!
She said that she was sympathetic to the hockey club as a former county player for Cheshire Under 16s, adding: “Members won’t be surprised to hear that I played on the left wing.”
A fellow Green member of the committee, Councillor Christina Summers, said that she was also sympathetic as a former hockey player – in Kent – but had concerns about noise.
She mentioned the repeated clack against the timber striking boards around each pitch.
Labour councillor Les Hamilton spoke with 40 years’ experience of the school, having taught there until his retirement.
He lamented the loss of a cricket square at a school that produced Sussex and England wicketkeeper Jim Parks.
The committee voted five-two in favour with four abstentions.
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