North Yorkshire Council has refused plans to build a two-storey car park and improve a football pitch at the former LMS sports club off Carleton New Road in Skipton.
Skipton firm Dalesway Construction Ltd was behind the plans which would have seen 409 car parking spaces created on part of an unused pitch.
The developer also had plans to improve a grass surface for a new pitch on the site and said the car park would help make the sports club financially sustainable again.
The scheme appeared to have the backing of the public with 47 representations received in favour and just four objections.
But a council planning officer said the car park would result in an “unnacceptable loss” of the playing field and could harm the appearance of the area.
The developer bought the site in October 2013 after the closure of the LMS sports club.
It’s remained largely empty since then but when the Tour de France passed through Skipton in 2014 the pitch was used as a temporary car park. Planning documents state feedback from locals regarding its new use was positive.
With the company wanting to safeguard sporting use at the site it proposed building a permanent car park on part of it in 2016.
As well as generating income for the sports club, the developer said the car park could help alleviate parking problems on residential streets in that part of town as it’s next to Sandylands Sports Centre.
However, plans were withdrawn three years later following an objection from Sport England, which is a public body and statutory consultee on planning applications that relate to sports facilities.
A new application was submitted last year with a larger car park and it attempted to overcome Sport England’s concerns by including the addition of an artificial 3G pitch instead of grass.
This was later changed to natural turf and the confusion led Sport England to issue another objection.
The application was not dealt with by the local planning committee despite a request by Skipton Town Council.
Planning officer Andrea Muscroft wrote: “The proposal would result in the unacceptable loss of playing pitch provision and fails to demonstrate that the development would not increase flood risk elsewhere, or that sites at a lower risk of flooding are not available
“Subject to conditions the proposal would not be harmful to highway safety or the character and appearance of the area, protected species or the living conditions of neighbours. Furthermore, policy compliant biodiversity net gain could be secured by a suitably worded planning condition.
“These are natural factors in the planning balance. In its favour the proposal would provide an improved lit playing pitch. However, this would not outweigh the overall loss of playing pitch provision and associated development plan conflict. Whilst increased parking provision in the locality might be considered as a benefit, in the absence of any evidence of overriding need it attracts little weight.”
Cllr Andy Solloway (Independent, Skipton West & West Craven) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he was disappointed with the refusal as the scheme “would have had a positive outcome on all kinds of issues”.
He said: “As well as enhancing all kinds of sports provision rather than taking them away as well as improving parking and accessibility at Sandylands Sports Centre, it had a large amount of public support. It would also have created a real opportunity to improve the pedestrian and walking access to the Sports Centre. as currently there is no footway along Engine Shed Lane. I find it odd that on one hand North Yorkshire Council are actively promoting and working with Sandylands on a new Masterplan, yet here they have refused a big part of those ambitions.”
The developer can appeal the decision.