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Village cricketers forced to move because of planning error

A village cricket club has been forced to find a new venue after planners at Shropshire Council failed to put in place measures to prevent balls hitting a new house when it approved planning permission, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

Shropshire Council has now been asked by the Ombudsman to build and maintain a new boundary fence to allow the cricket club to return to its home ground.

Members of the cricket club approached the Ombudsman after the council approved planning permission for the new home on their ground’s boundary. The new home was so close to the wicket that both the house and anyone in the garden were at risk of being hit by stray balls.

Because of the risk, the club decided to play its home matches at another venue, and has spent nearly two seasons in exile. It also had to fund its own trajectory report to discover what measures are needed to allow them to return home.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council did not consult with Sport England before approving planning permission. Had it done so, the Ombudsman said it is likely the council would have imposed conditions on the new home’s builders to protect the property.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“This is a stark example of a how a planning oversight can have a significant impact on the community surrounding a new development.

“At a time when rural facilities are being lost, and physical activity and the nation’s health are high on the country’s agenda, it is all the more important that clubs such as these remain within the communities they serve.

“I now hope the club and council can come together to put in place measures which will allow this club to provide cricket in the village for generations to come.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council should meet with the club to agree the most appropriate ball-strike mitigation measure and seek the most cost-effective quote for the work. This work should be completed before the start of the 2020 cricket season.

The council should also meet the club’s costs in commissioning the trajectory report and agree to bear financial responsibility for future maintenance of the fence. It should also offer to reimburse the club for its costs in hiring an alternative venue.

Article date: 03 March 2020