A decision on a new £750,000 all-weather pitch at Richmond School has been deferred after councillors were unimpressed with elements of the scheme.
Councillors expressed disbelief after hearing a 15ft “gaudy pink” acoustic barrier, 17m-high floodlights and a grandstand were all essential parts of the scheme to improve Richmond School pupils’ footballing skills.
Members of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee added it beggared belief that a site off the historic Maison Dieu had been selected for the flagship scheme given that people were legally entitled to ride horses through it.
The meeting was told while both the Football Association and the council had identified a need for a 3G pitch in the district, the rapidly expanding Catterick Garrison would make a better location than beside homes in a conservation area.
Nevertheless, to lessen the impact of the pitch on residents, the school had cut its planned use by 15 per cent to 73 hours a week.
Despite this, the meeting heard relations between residents and the school had broken down and there was an ongoing dispute over light pollution from another sports field at the school.
Residents lined up to voice opposition to the plans and told the meeting that such was the proximity of the floodlights to their homes they feared being dazzled by them.
Councillors said while they supported the scheme, parts of it appeared to have been included solely for the benefit of Richmond Town Football Club, which would be among numerous community groups to benefit from the pitch.
Councillor Jamie Cameron: “Nobody wants this acoustic barrier, so what’s the point in having it. Crazy.
“Why on the earth is there a bridleway going across this football pitch? The pitch seems to have locked gates, but you can’t have locked gates on a bridleway. It’s ridiculous. Any horse worth its salt will buck its rider off straight away with people playing football.”
Planning committee members deferred a decision on the scheme, in order to visit a sports pitch similar to the proposal after dark, to assess the impact the floodlights would have on Richmond residents.