A SPORTS ground is set to massively expand after plans which were originally refused by Cherwell District Council were given the green light by the planning inspector.

Bicester Sports Association (BSA) had asked for permission to upgrade its site in the village of Chesterton, near Bicester, with new pitches for football, rugby and cricket players, a new clubhouse and archery and rifle range.

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The plans also include eight large changing rooms built to modern standards and new cricket nets together with an updated scorebox.

Getting the go ahead was especially important because BSA had sold its ground on Oxford Road in Bicester, to Bicester Village owner Value Retail.

Bicester Advertiser: Oxford Rd sports ground (previously owned by Bicester Sports Association (BSA) ) has been taken over by Bicester Village now. BSA has now got permission to expand its Chesterton sports ground. 31/08/2021 Picture by Ed NixOxford Rd sports ground (previously owned by Bicester Sports Association (BSA) ) has been taken over by Bicester Village now. BSA has now got permission to expand its Chesterton sports ground. 31/08/2021 Picture by Ed Nix

But Cherwell District Council rejected the proposals because it said the site was in an inaccessible location and the development would have ‘adverse visual effects’, partly due to an increase in floodlighting.

BSA however appealed the decision and after a public inquiry, planning inspector Richard Aston approved, saying the scheme would deliver ‘demonstrably significant social and economic benefits’.

Mr Aston said in his report: "Their objectives of providing enhanced high-quality facilities to aid both individual player, team and club development/expansion for all users would be met by the proposal and are unlikely to be met by their current arrangements.

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"In the midst of an ongoing global pandemic the need for such facilities takes on a greater significance and overall there would be demonstrably significant social and economic benefits."

When BSA submitted its application in 2019, people were mainly concerned about the fact that Bicester's sports facilities would be located outside of the town, making it harder for children, clubs and other users to access.

Bicester Advertiser:

The inspector however has addressed this concern in some of the conditions set out with the application.

For example a scheme for the provision of a minibus service for clubs and individuals using the site for a minimum period of 10 years must be delivered and BSA must set up a travel plan that includes details of how it will commit to operating a car sharing scheme for users of the site.

A spokesperson for BSA said: “Following many years of tireless work from our volunteers at BSA, the project team and many local sports clubs with whom we collaborated closely, we’re delighted that our plans to extend the sporting facilities at our Chesterton base have finally been approved.

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“This scheme will give us some of the best facilities in the South of England. The plans will provide accessible and affordable facilities that will inspire future generations of sports people and foster greater participation in sport."

A spokesperson for Cherwell District Council said: "The Planning Inspectorate has overturned the previous decision of Cherwell District Council and approved this application, but with a significant number of conditions which need to be resolved.

"They cover matters such as transport to and from the sports facility, and its impact on the character of the local landscape.

"Cherwell District Council is ready to work with Bicester Sports Association and their agents to find appropriate solutions to these matters to enable this enhanced sports facility at Chesterton to be realised.”

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