Concerns raised over £1million Vale scheme’s impact on castle and parklands
Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust has applied to Melton Borough Council to replace an ageing, inadequate, small blockwork pavilion with a bigger structure and indoor cricket nets at Knipton cricket ground.
The trust, which would relocate its headquarters to the Harston Lane site from its current office at the castle, say it would enable thousands of extra local youngsters to be able to play the game at its popular sessions.
The new pavilion would also serve as the new clubhouse for Belvoir Cricket Club and would be available to be used by the community as a social and meeting venue.
The council has received 110 letters of support for the scheme, with many pointing out that it would enable the charity to expand the important service it provides for schoolchildren and disabled youngsters.
But there have also been 41 letters of objection, citing the negative impact the development would have on the nearby castle and its Grade II listed parklands and the adverse aspect of increased traffic on the villages of Knipton and Harston.
Objectors also suggest it is not an appropriate site for the development and a less rural one should be found in either Melton or Grantham.
A report to go before the planning committee states that Historic England ‘consider that the scale and design of the cricket school building would make it a dominant incongruous addition to the landscape’.
The trust has sought to lessen the impact of the proposed building’s massing and bulk and also introduced grassed banks but Historic England say it will be up to the council to decide whether the public benefits of the scheme would outweight any harm to the heritage assets.
Belvoir Parish Council, which covers Belvoir, Knipton and Harston, has also registered an objection to the development, on the grounds that it will spoil the quality of life of residents and their views of the castle parkland.
It points out that a proposed car park with 90 spaces demonstrates the impact it will have on local roads and that large events such as weddings would be held there to help pay for its upkeep.
But officials will recommend that councillors approve the application because it meets the requirements of the Melton Local Plan to support community initiatives which encourage greater participation in sport and leisure.
The committee report points out that existing facilities there are not fit for purpose and that extensive work has been done to ensure the new development would be landscaped to reduce impact on the area.
It states that ‘public benefits of the proposal are considered to marginally outweigh the identified harm to the immediate setting of the Grade II-listed Park and Gardens and the wider setting of the Grade 1-listed Belvoir Castle’.
Leicestershire County Council’s highways department does not object on the grounds that the traffic to the site would not be continuous and that it would only happen when events are hosted there by the trust, in off-peak weekday hours.