ST HELENS Council's planning committee has given approval to plans to redevelop land used as playing fields at Sidac Social Club to build 129 homes.

Proposals for replacement fields with sports facilities including new changing rooms and perimeter fencing at Sutton Leisure Centre were also granted, as the committee considered both applications together.

Plans for the site at Sidac in Sutton Leach also include brick cladding of the toilet block, the creation of an entrance porch, the reconfiguration of the car park to provide 57 spaces and the creation of acoustic fencing.
At the town hall hearing, planning officer Melanie Hale noted the Sidac site has an "extensive planning history".

She added: "It's worth noting there is a shortage of housing provision in the area" and that the plans for facilities at Sutton leisure Centre would "provide adequate replacement".

She did note that open space provision in the housing plans did not meet council standards. 

She recommended plans for approval but added that if the replacement facilities at Sutton Leisure Centre were to be refused, then the housing development would have to be turned down as well.

The hearing heard that there were concerns over potential noise and traffic from residents, with the plans having received a high number of objections.

Resident Lorna Bates said at the hearing: "There are concerns about the highway access" and added concern over affects over current "property prices".

She also raised concern "about the number of potential vehicles" and drainage.

She added: "There is a lot of concerns from a lot of residents that haven't bene answered." 

Applicants Countryside Properties said: "We believe providing a new facility up to current Sport England Standards would be an enhancement rather than a like for like replacement".

They added that Sidac is a "suitable place" for the housing development and "we will provide 129 high quality properties".

Committee member Cllr Martin Bond said that he would vote in favour of proposals but added he had concerns over "noise" and "traffic" and the proximity of a bus stop, noting that the playing field at Sidac is "quite iconic in Sutton". 

Cllr Steve Glover said he had made a site visit and noted the "very poor" quality of the current field at Sidac.

In separate votes, committee members voted unanimously in favour of the replacement playing fields at Sutton Leisure Centre, with nine voting in favour of the housing development at Sidac, and one abstention.