26th Jun, 2022

Coventry bowls club plan using £2m taxpayers' money set for approval despite protests

Felix Nobes 27th Jun, 2019

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build an indoor bowls club in Coventry using £2million of taxpayers’ money are set for planning approval – amid residents’ campaign.

Plans to create the new site at the council-owned Avenue Bowls Club on Gaveston Road are set for the go-ahead at a Coventry City Council planning committee meeting next Thursday (July 4).

The Coundon Residents Group (CRG) – formed in opposition to plans – says building the club at the site, in a quiet, residential neighbourhood, would not be appropriate.

A petition containing more than 232 signatures has been drawn up.

And a further 153 letters of objection have been lodged.

Officers say the £2million would come from either council borrowing or council funds which could include savings from closing other facilities. It would be partly paid back, they claim, via a commercial lease/rent agreement with the bowls club.

Some Labour and Conservative councillors have also condemned the plans.

Objections are centred on concerns about parking, traffic, harm to wildlife, noise and light pollution and the loss of a cherished allotment site.

Despite this, council officer Nigel Smith has recommended councillors approve the application by developers SNC Lavalin in a report prepared for the meeting.

It states: “Whilst there would obviously be a quantifiable loss of green space, due to the erection of a building, it is considered that the loss of outdoor sport facility is compensated for by the benefits to sport provision.

“The impacts upon highway safety, residential amenity and the character of the area would not be significant.”

The proposal would see the creation of an indoor bowls rink with changing rooms and toilets on the site of the all-weather pitch and allotments. The car park would be remodelled to provide 42 spaces, increased from 32.

The scheme comes after the decision to close the ‘outdated’ Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre in Fairfax Street, with the council seeking a new site.

The plans – first hatched nearly two years ago – sparked fury from people who are still demanding the use of a more appropriate site.

Residents claim sites on a long list of 18 alternatives outlined in a council feasibility study would be more suitable and cheaper.

They feel there must be a reason yet to be disclosed why the council seems intent on using the Gaveston Road site.

The CRG is headed by Jo and Paul Alcock. And in April, Paul told us: “If you consider that there is a reduced footfall by 20 per cent for indoor bowls use at the current facility, for them to squeeze a site in an area that is already known to have traffic problems, poor access, which is difficult to get to, away from the city centre just doesn’t make sense.

“You can’t hold national competitions here because you can’t get coaches here and get people in and out.

“There are other sites. The city centre would clearly be preferred if they want to grow the sport.”

A Coventry City Council officer’s report from last year said: “The proposal for the development of an Indoor bowls facility at The Avenue Bowls Club is supported by the existing and proven, strong and sustainable club governance, with a sustainable business plan that will deliver an on-going annual rental income back to the council.”

Councillors’ backing for the funding and lease arrangements of up to 150 years was given in January last year.

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