Hockey club wins approval for all-weather pitch and new clubhouse

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to renovate a hockey club in Bexley have been approved despite concerns the project will cause parking “chaos”.

Bexley council has approved plans for a new clubhouse to be added to Burnt Ash Hockey Club, just off Bexley High Street.

The works will see a new all-weather hockey pitch with floodlights being added to the club as well as renovations to an existing building to add changing rooms and a pavilion, making it a clubhouse.

Refurbishments are also planned for the storage and office space with the other buildings on the site, which were described as being in poor condition, being demolished.

At a planning meeting last week, Vincent Gabbe from VRG Planning spoke on behalf of Apex Contractors, who own the nearby Old Mill building. He said the private road to the site was built to serve stables instead of the current proposal and felt emergency vehicles would struggle to access the area.

Martin Talbot, speaking on behalf of the club, said the all-weather pitch was needed to ensure the future of the club. He added that the governing body for hockey had mandated for all hockey to be played on Astroturf and the club’s team were currently travelling outside the borough to train and play.

Resident Bruno Dicastri said he was a former member of the hockey club and understood the need for an all-weather hockey pitch. But, he said there were existing issues with waste vehicles being unable to access the area due to the narrow roads, causing an “eyesore” pile of uncollected rubbish.

He said at the meeting: “Parking at the Old Mill is already a problem. There are ten private places for the Old Mill residents but it appears other people know the barrier code such that when the spaces are vacant at the weekend, it can be like a parking free for all. This will effectively be like this whenever the hockey club is open.”

Mr Dicastri also said “chaos” would be caused on the main road off the Old Mill from visiting teams not having space to park.

Conservative Councillor Janice Ward-Wilson said that the congestion in Bexley village was already ‘horrendous’ and worried about how local businesses would be affected by the increased number of cars.

Conservative councillor Andy Dourmoush said: “I do not believe that this is a suitable site. Most people will know Bexley village is a very very congested area. In my opinion it will be traffic chaos, especially on match days or a Sunday.”

A council officer at the meeting said a transport assessment had been provided by the applicant on impacts to the highway network, adding: “Just because the club has many members, that doesn’t mean they all come at once. There will not be hundreds and hundreds of people descending on Bexley village at any one time as a result of these proposals.”

The planning committee voted at the meeting to approve the application. A condition of the approval was for all relevant planning and transport documents to be provided to the council before work on the site began.

Pictured top: A new pitch and floodlights planned for the hockey club (Picture: BPTW Cray Mill Leisure Limited)

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