Plans to renovate Bexley hockey club approved despite locals fearing parking 'chaos'

A CGI of the new pitch and floodlights planned for Burnt Ash Hockey Club, Bexley, London, UK
-Credit: (Image: BPTW / Cray Mill Leisure Limited)

Plans to renovate a hockey club in Bexley have been approved despite concerns the project will cause parking 'chaos'. Bexley Council has approved plans for a new clubhouse to be added to Burnt Ash Hockey Club, just off Bexley High Street.

The works will see a new all-weather hockey pitch with floodlights being added to the club as well as renovations to the stable building to add changing rooms and a pavilion, making it a clubhouse. Refurbishments are also planned for the storage and office space with the other buildings on the site, which were described as being in poor condition, being demolished.

The topic was discussed at a planning meeting for Bexley Council on May 23. Vincent Gabbe from VRG Planning spoke on behalf of Apex Contractors, who own the nearby Old Mill building. The structure contains several flats and offices as well as allowing access to the hockey club site. He said the private road to the site was built to serve stables instead of the current proposal and felt emergency vehicles would struggle to access the area.

Martin Talbot, speaking on behalf of the club, said the all-weather pitch was needed to ensure the future of the club. He added that the governing body for hockey had mandated for all hockey to be played on Astroturf and the club's team were currently travelling outside the borough to train and play.

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A CGI of the new pitch and floodlights planned for Burnt Ash Hockey Club, Bexley, London, UK
Changes to the club will also include a new clubhouse in place of the existing stables -Credit:BPTW / Cray Mill Leisure Limited

Local resident Bruno Dicastri said he was a former member of the hockey club and understood the need for an all-weather hockey pitch. However, he said there were existing issues with waste vehicles being unable to access the area due to the narrow roads, causing an 'eyesore' pile of uncollected rubbish.

He said at the meeting: "Parking at the Old Mill is already a problem. There are ten private places for the Old Mill residents but it appears other people know the barrier code such that when the spaces are vacant at the weekend, it can be like a parking free for all. This will effectively be like this whenever the hockey club is open."

Mr Dicastri also said ‘chaos’ would be caused on the main road off the Old Mill from visiting teams not having space to park. Conservative Councillor Janice Ward-Wilson said that the congestion in Bexley village was already 'horrendous' and worried about how local businesses would be affected by the increased number of cars.

Conservative Councillor Andy Dourmoush said at the meeting: "I do not believe that this is a suitable site. Most people will know Bexley village is a very very congested area. Whether it's early in the morning, whether it's in the evening or at lunchtime, weekends or during the week… In my opinion it will be traffic chaos, especially on match days or a Sunday."

A council officer at the meeting said a transport assessment had been provided by the applicant on impacts to the highway network. They said the council's highways department had deemed the documents as acceptable and said committee members may have overestimated the scale of the events that would be held at the club.

They added: "Just because the club has many members, that doesn't mean they all come at once. They have various different male and female clubs of different age groups and they stagger when they use the facilities. There will not be hundreds and hundreds of people descending on Bexley village at any one time as a result of these proposals."

The planning committee voted at the meeting to approve the application to renovate the hockey club. A condition of the approval was for all relevant planning and transport documents to be provided to the council before work on the site began.

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