11:16AM, Friday 21 January 2022
A planning application to change the use of an agricultural field into sports pitches was approved by the Maidenhead Development Management Committee on Wednesday.
The application by Claires Court, proposed to change the use of the agricultural land west of Cannon Lane and adjacent to Claires Court Junior Boys School into sport pitches.
The pitches are to be shared by both the school and North Maidenhead Cricket Club.
Speaking at the meeting, held at the Town Hall, Claires Court principal James Wilding said that as well as the Boys School, there are a further 650 secondary school pupils aged 11 to 18 years old based in College Road and Ray Mill Road East.
He added that these schools are within residential environments and have ‘no major games facilities on site’, and consequently are ‘completely dependent’ on accessing playing fields on other places, including Maidenhead Rugby Club at Braywick and Phoenix Rugby Club in Taplow.
Mr Wilding added that after the closure of North Maidenhead Cricket Club, Claires Court lost access to their two cricket squares in the summer, their outfield pitches in the winter and the club’s changing facilities.
He added: “North Maidenhead Cricket Club have hosted Claires Court cricketers for many years.
“Now homeless, we have the opportunity to return their friendship and secure their 100 years of playing history for the [town].”
Speaking at the meeting Cllr Maureen Hunt (Con, Hurley and Walthams), said: “This to me is an excellent situation that’s put forward.”
She then presented a letter to the meeting, querying a part which she explained says that 44 players would have to go 250 yards for the changing facilities.
Planning officer Tony Franklin responded by saying that to his understanding the general rule is that people turn up ‘ready to go’.
Cllr Hunt raised also discussed coaches accessing the site, and said she is aware there are parking areas for coaches, which Mr Franklin echoed that there was.
Chairman of the panel, Cllr Phil Haseler (Con, Cox Green), said: “[It is] incredibly pleasing to see this planning application come forward and having seen in the local press, North Maidenhead Cricket Club being made homeless and having to withdraw from the league this year.
Cllr Haseler went on to reflect on the ‘incredible’ effect it has had on both North Maidenhead and Claires Court School.
He added: “I am entirely supportive of this despite my previous history with planning on this site. I’m really pleased to see this come forward and I fully support this as proposed.”
The panel voted unanimously to approve of the application, in line with the conditions in the report, and an updated amendment to condition two, extending the time of use of the sports pitches to 9.30pm in the summer months.
A cross-party coalition of 28 councillors from three different factions has been formed at Wokingham Borough Council.