Plans to create cycle tracks at Newbold Comyn in Leamington have been approved
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Plans to redevelop the disused golf course at Newbold Comyn in Leamington and create cycle tracks at the existing golf shop have been approved.
The proposal has proven to be divisive among townspeople - and planners have received hundreds of letters, for and against the idea.
After hearing arguments for and against the idea, councillors at tonight's (Thursday's) Warwick District Council planning meeting have decided to approved the plans.
The proposal also includes the creation of a cycling hub housing reception area, cafe and toilets together with a area where novice riders can improve their skills.
More than 1,400 comments were sent to the council in relation to the controversial plans - 60 per cent of them in favour - and of the eight public speakers at the meeting, four were in favour and four against.
Prior to presenting the scheme to councillors, planning officer Sandip Sahota explained that planning permission was only needed for the change of use of the building and external alterations, and for the engineering works needed to create the hub area and trails.
He also outlined the areas on which committee members needed to decide including the impact on the green belt, the impact on ecology and highway safety.
On the latter he said there had been no objection from the highways authority and added: “The site is intended for local use and the scale is not comparable to somewhere like Cannock Chase where there are miles of paths and tracks as a destination for cyclists. It is clearly aimed at the local community who, it is intended, will cycle predominantly to the site.”
One of the speakers, Kate Pittel, said councillors needed to make up their own mind on the impact of the development.
She said: “The officer’s report says there will be hard landscaping, railings, signage, gates and artificial lighting. These are the engineering operations you have to decide on. You have to make a decision on the future of this open space and how much those engineering operations will eventually change the landscape.”
Cllr Geraldine Cullinane (Lab, Leamington Clarendon) added: “I welcome many parts of this application. What has come as a shock to a lot of residents are the 3,870 metres of mountain bike track over this precious and accessible green belt and. The most scenic, beautiful and tranquil part of the common - a place that has always been well used and appreciated by many.
“The role of this committee is to decide how much weight they give to the comments and views of local people - 80.3 per cent of the objection comments come from Leamington residents against just 32.7 per cent of the support comments.”
Members of the planning committee also heard from those in favour of the scheme including Leamington Spa Cycling Club member Richard Davies.
He said: “It is irrefutable that the buildings in their current state are an eyesore and demeaning to the area. A new cafe, public toilet facility and cycling skills area is for everybody and in my opinion would be a far better utilisation of the space.
“The proposed very simple family-oriented cycle paths installed in a relatively small area of Newbold Comyn demonstrate forward thinking from Warwick District Council in investing in grassroots cycling.”
The plans were approved by ten votes to one.