A number of the University’s sports teams could be left without facilities for training and fixtures after City of York Council planners recommended a 10 year planning permission extension for the Sport Centre Tent be turned down.
The lease for the structure, opened in 2005 and intended only to be temporary, expired last month but, in the absence of any firm plans to replace the Tent with a permanent building, the council’s east area planning sub-committee is expected to refuse a request to keep it open until 2020.
Any closure would represent a tremendous blow to a significant proportion of York Sport’s 59 clubs, who rely on the £800,000 facility for training sessions and fixtures in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) leagues on a weekly basis during term time. The Netball, Volleyball, Basketball, Fencing and Ultimate Frisbee clubs are among those which could be forced to relocate.
It would also impact on schools and the local community, who are able to hire out one or more of the Tent’s three multi-purpose pitches throughout the whole year.
A report into the proposal said: “Temporary planning permission was granted because the applicant specifically volunteered that intention and because it was expected the planning circumstances would have changed at the end of the five-year period and a replacement permanent sports hall would have been constructed.
“However, the University appears at this stage to have no firm plans for a replacement despite the continuing need for a sports hall at Heslington West. This uncertainty is insufficient reason to justify extending the planning permission by ten years.”
While accepting that the Tent would be allowed to remain open for the time being, the report states that continuing its use would have “an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the area.”
Sam Asfahani, York Sport President, remains “optimistic” that it won’t “reach the worst case scenario of closure, and that the planning permission will be extended”.
Rob Wadsworth, the Sports Centre Manager, told Nouse: “It’s imperative that we get extended time permission because it’s really well used by teams as well as people outside the University.”
If the structure were shut down, Wadsworth has said an alternative would be “using facilities in the community, which would obviously be at substantial cost to the clubs”.
Asfahani continued: “No decision has been made as yet, but the Union is involved in all discussions on the matter. There is an upcoming meeting with the planning group and I’ll be there. I’m confident we’ll get our point across.”