The Island’s MP – Bob Seely – has welcomed the decision of Secretary of State for Communities, Housing & Local Government, Robert Jenrick, not to call in the planning application for the Smallbrook Ice & Leisure Centre.
On 17th December, the Isle of Wight Council’s Planning Committee resolved to grant planning permission for the new facility, but – because of an outstanding objection from Sport England – the application was referred to the Secretary of State, to consider whether to call it in for his own determination.
On 20th January, the Government’s Planning Casework Unit wrote to the Isle of Wight Council advising that the Secretary of State had – despite Sport England’s objection – decided not to call-in the application. This meant that the Council could proceed to issue planning permission, which it did on 23rd January.
Speaking following this decision, Bob Seely MP said: “Having previously raised my concerns – about Sport England’s objections – with the Government, I am pleased that the Secretary of State has now given the Isle of Wight Council the green light to issue consent, in line with the Planning Committee’s resolution.
“Sport England’s objection, whilst well-intentioned, was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the status of the land on which the facility is proposed to be built. The land is not a playing pitch, and consequently no loss of a sporting use arises from this development. To the contrary, this new facility will improve sporting provision on the Island – and in particular will secure a replacement ice rink to meet the existing local need.
“With the Secretary of State’s decision, common sense has now prevailed – and I hope that Sport England will now work constructively with the promoters of this new facility to enable it to come to fruition.
“I must also congratulate the Ryde Arena Community Action Group for their tireless work in campaigning for the re-provision of an Island-based ice-skating facility after the regrettable closure of the rink on Ryde Esplanade, and the Planning Committee for having the foresight to support these proposals.”
Cllr Dave Stewart, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council added: “In December, our Planning Committee made a clear decision in favour of this new ice rink facility. The Secretary of State has stated that planning decisions should be made at a local level wherever possible, and I am therefore pleased he has accepted the resolution made by elected members of the Isle of Wight Council last month.
“With planning permission now issued, the Council will work pro-actively with the promoters of this facility to resolve any outstanding issues (including highways). We want to see the Smallbrook Ice & Leisure Centre built and open as soon as possible, providing a much-needed boost to the Island’s sporting offer.”
Cllr Vanessa Churchman, the local member (Havenstreet, Ashey & Haylands), who spoke in favour of the scheme at December’s Planning Committee also added: “This is great news. I will now be working with colleagues to ensure that the speed limit on Ashey Road is reduced to 30mph in order to comply with the conditions accompanying the planning consent.
“This is very timely as the Council and Island Roads are looking to improve the Smallbrook roundabout, and – along with a lower speed limit – this has the potential to improve road safety in this particular location, both for those accessing the Smallbrook site and road users more generally.”