Reader letter: Colney Playing Fields scheme has many benefits, locals have been misled

Norwich Rugby Football Club ground on the North Walsham Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Rugby Football Club ground on the North Walsham Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

I do wonder whether many of those opposing the development of the University-owned Colney Playing Fields have examined the proposals in detail before expressing their opinions.

The proposed development not only establishes a regional centre of excellence for the playing of rugby football but also modern changing and social facilities for the numerous other sports already played on the existing pitches. The scheme improves sporting facilities for members of the Norwich Rugby Club, UEA staff and students and equally importantly for the local community.

Ecological and biodiversity issues were considered from the outset and have been further refined in the revised planning application. The original master-planning exercise considered a much wider area but this was refined to exclude ecologically important areas such as Lusty Hills, an area of unimproved acid grassland. In total, 90pc of the planned development utilises existing grass pitches and developed areas, four per cent of the scheme requires the levelling of 0.8 hectares of plantation woodland, planted in the 1980s, to provide two under-9s grass pitches and six per cent of the proposed development uses 1.1 hectares of semi-improved grassland, currently used as part of a hayfield, for two under 10s pitches.

These additional grass pitches are required to obtain the support of Sport England for the development and, not having rugby posts, have little or no visual impact. Studies by the project's professional ecologist demonstrate that no rare or notable species will be adversely affected by the development and one of the amendments to the original plan relocates the under 7s pitches so as to preserve the rough pasture adjacent to the river.

The scheme increases, not restricts, the number of footpaths for walkers and routes for cyclists in the area. Some of your readers have been seriously misled when opposing the proposed development thinking it is either in Eaton Park or Earlham Park. It is, of course, in neither. These days signing petitions online is easy but it is incumbent on those who do so to check that the propaganda supporting the petition is the truth. For example your paper has been advertising a petition against the proposals in Earlham Park the signatories to which merely demonstrate that they don't know where the proposed development is located.

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