The Committee considered the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management’s report detailing an updated East Devon Playing Pitch Strategy that had previously been before Strategic Planning Committee Members on 26 March 2019.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management outlined the work undertaken to date and also highlighted the delays due to the pandemic.
Members noted Sport England had responded to the current issues and options consultation advising that they would be objecting if an up-to-date playing pitch strategy did not accompany the new Local Plan when it was submitted for examination.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management outlined three options to take this work forward as follows and advised Members the work was anticipated to be completed within 12 to 18 months:
Option 1 – Officers of the Council to complete the work.
Option 2 – To defer the work.
Option 3 – To commission consultations to complete the work.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management highlighted that option 2 was not a viable option considering the comments by Sport England and option 3 would have cost implications.
The Chair advised Members that he had requested this report to Strategic Planning Committee following a meeting with representatives of the Football Foundation who advised there was up to £3m available match funding for East Devon Community Sports Clubs from April 2021.
Comments made by Non-Committee Members included:
· Suggestion to work alongside the LED Monitoring Forum which was working with Sport England and Strategic Leisure to undertake an audit within the district of all leisure facilities. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised it would be good to join up the work that the LED especially as they are undertaking a district wide audit and would help to progress this project more quickly;
· There was a big need to include netball as a sport in the Axe Valley. There is an underrepresentation on ladies’ sport in Devon.
Comments made by Committee Members included:
· Clarification sought on whether the inventory included clubs currently playing on local village playing fields;
· Clarification sought on whether it would be expedient to request from villages their insights from their neighbourhood plans about emerging sports pitches in order to get some synergies going between neighbourhood plans and the local plan. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised all sources would be used to identify all aspirations and needs of communities
· Clarification sought on diversity and site specificity of sports.
· It would be good to see some properly elite sports being introduced into Devon that are not already here.
· Concerns raised about the options and did not want to use consultants to complete the playing pitch strategy;
· Clarification sought on what long term strategic communications had officers had to achieve better relationships. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised the next stage would be to engage with all of the governing bodies and the clubs.
· It is important the Local Plan takes priority and the need to complete the playing pitch strategy as soon as we are out of the pandemic;
· Support was shown to keep the playing pitch strategy in-house to keep control and to allow us to ask the questions rather than a third party coming in starting afresh and making a profit;
· A suggestion was made for a further recommendation for officers to liaise with Strategic Leisure’s current analysis of sports facilities across the district so that the work by the LED Monitoring Forum does not overlap. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised he was keen to work with Strategic Leisure to try and move this work forward.
1. That progress to date on a new playing pitch strategy for East Devon be noted;
2. That the options for progressing the new playing pitch strategy be considered and Option A – Officers of the Planning Policy Section complete the Playing Pitch Strategy – though noting that Local Plan production is a priority and concentrating on it could delay completion of the strategy – work may need to be fitted in when time and opportunities permit be agreed;
3. Officers liaise with Strategic Leisure’s current analysis of sports facilities across the district be agreed.