Shropshire village cricketers can go home at last after planning row
Planners who left a sports club near Market Drayton stumped for a place to play after a new home was built on its boundary have been told their actions were just not cricket.
Shropshire Council failed to put in measures to prevent balls being smacked into a house built next to Hinstock Cricket Club's pitch, according to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
The authority could now be forced to cough up £25,000 to build a new boundary wall so the club can return home after playing its games at Market Drayton last season.
The club was ejected from Shropshire County Cricket League division three due to failing to fulfil its fixtures. It was a problem caused by the club being unable to recruit and retain players as a result of travelling a long way for home games. The club has had to reapply to the league and will rejoin in a lower division.
A planning application has been submitted for a 15ft high semi-demountable wall to be built at the club's Wood Lane ground.
Club secretary Steve Collins said: "It's really good news for us. We've had two years now of having to play at alternative venues. When we first realised the house was going to be built we thought it would be the end of the cricket club because of how much it was going to cost.
"To be fair to the council, they have been working hard with us to reach the recommendations. But they ignored our complaint so we had to take it to the ombudsman.
"Hinstock has had a cricket club going back more than 100 years. We've had difficulty recruiting and retaining players since we've not been playing in Hinstock, so hopefully that will improve now."
Robert Gough, the club's welfare officer, added: "We need to be back home sooner rather than later. It's been a problem. It's been a pain in the rear end, quite frankly."
The club filed a complaint with the ombudsman and, in the meantime, has spent more than £1,000 to fund its own trajectory report to discover what measures are needed to be put in place for it to return home.
The ombudsman’s investigation found the council did not consult with Sport England before approving planning permission. Had it done so, the ombudsman said it is likely the council would have imposed conditions on the new home’s builders to protect the property.
Michael King, local government and social care ombudsman, said: "This is a stark example of a how a planning oversight can have a significant impact on the community surrounding a new development.
“At a time when rural facilities are being lost, and physical activity and the nation’s health are high on the country’s agenda, it is all the more important that clubs such as these remain within the communities they serve.
“I now hope the club and council can come together to put in place measures which will allow this club to provide cricket in the village for generations to come.”
The ombudsman has said the council should meet the club's costs for the report, the new fence and its future maintenance, and it should reimburse the club's costs for hiring an alternative venue for home games.