Hatfield Broad Oak sports pavilion refused

Hatfield Broad Oak sign

Hatfield Broad Oak sign - Credit: Archant

Relieved residents in Hatfield Broad Oak are celebrating this week after planning permission for a sports pavilion was refused.

It has been knocked back because Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee said it doesn’t comply with its sustainable development policy, it is too big, uses the wrong material on the outside, and would be “visually intrusive”.

The refusal letter also said it would cause harm to the adjacent listed building on the proposed site, which is on Dunmow Road.

A war over the pavilion between residents and Hatfield Broad Oak parish councillors has been waging since around 2009, and in 2013 a survey was conducted in the village which said 95 per cent of residents did not want the new structure.

At that point the project was put under review.

Earlier this year £165,000 of funding for the pavilion was lost because the original councillors – that wanted the pavilion changed – and new members could not agree on the details of the plan, including parking and its size. Because of the disagreements, it could not grant the lease to the sports club charity which would build the pavilion.

Despite the setback the landowner persisted with the application, which has now been refused.

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The arguments over the building got so heated that Uttlesford District Council told anti-pavilion councillors – Cllrs Tracy Brown, Ian Rushton and Ken Swainsbury – to apologise to a pro-pavilion councillor, Cllr Mark Strutt, for bullying over the issue.

Joy Reed, 83, a resident, is pleased about this result – but is apprehensive the long-running dispute might not be over.

She said: “It’s quite a relief, but we just don’t know what is going to happen, we are hopeful this is going to be the end.

“If it had been handled better then it might have been so much different.”

District councillor Keith Artus said: “I was obviously disappointed that the generous landlord who gave the land to the village had been unsuccessful in trying to provide the pavilion that is supported by all of the sports clubs.

“The community would have had a pavilion built years ago if the dysfunctional parish council, several members of which have been censured by Uttlesford District Council for their behaviour, had not lost the sports club charity, and hence the village, grants of up to £250,000 by its intransigence.

“I’m sure those dedicated to providing proper facilities for all will continue to pursue the dream.

“Maybe it will be renamed The Phoenix Pavilion.”