Application to build new Shropshire archery centre after complaints from neighbours of stray arrows

Sport England wants to build a new archery centre after having to close its outdoor range in Shropshire because of concerns from neighbours about stray arrows.

Lilleshall National Sports Centre has been the base for the GB Archery training
Lilleshall National Sports Centre has been the base for the GB Archery training

The organisation has applied to Shropshire Council for permission to build the new facility at Lilleshall National Sports Centre.

The application for the new centre, which would include both indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, outlines some of the challenges faced by athletes in recent years – including in preparation for the last Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A planning statement submitted on behalf of Sport England by Lichfields explained how complaints from neighbours over the safety risk of stray arrows had led to the closure of the outdoor shooting range.

Athletes were relocated to a temporary outdoor range – but that meant a longer distance between the indoor and outdoor facilities, which has been particularly problematic for para-athletes, putting them at greater risk of injury.

The statement from Lichfields said: "The reasons for the relocation of the archery facilities at the Sports Centre predominantly relate to health and safety.

"In 2020, the outdoor shooting range located to the west of Lilleshall Hall was permanently closed due to safety concerns.

"The neighbouring land immediately to the north of the shooting range was previously vacant but has recently been redeveloped for commercial use.

"Complaints have since been received from this neighbouring property regarding stray arrows, and this obviously poses a significant health and safety risk."

It adds: "Subsequently, and as stated previously, the outdoor range has been temporarily relocated to the application site. The area immediately to the north of the temporary shooting range is vacant grassland with Abbey Wood beyond, which provides the necessary buffer and significantly reduces health and safety risks associated with stray arrows.

"The temporary facilities currently located at the application site have enabled the GB World Class programmes to continue their preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

"However, this created a half-mile distance between indoor and outdoor daily training environments and has been challenging to operate effectively.

"This is particularly difficult for para-athletes who make up approximately 70 per cent of the archers in the elite programmes.

"Wheelchair users are having to undertake significantly more wheelchair transfers due to travelling between indoor and outdoor facilities which considerably increases the risk of shoulder, arm and back injuries."

The site of the proposed new facility is on the western edge of the National Sports Centre site, but within the boundary of the Registered Park and Garden, around 450m to the south of Lilleshall Hall and the main sports centre complex.

A large area of woodland, known as Abbey Wood, lies to the north of the application site and provides screening between Lilleshall Hall and the proposed new facility.

The development will be one single storey building made up of two separate, but interlinked, elements laid out in an L shape, with the indoor shooting range running along the eastern boundary of the site, and the facilities building and shooting area for the outdoor range running along the southern boundary.

The access to the site will be via an existing track from Sheriffhales Drive, which runs past Gainham’s Lodge.

In a letter included in the application Archery GB said the facility is a "key component" of its plans for the forthcoming Olympic Games in Paris, Los Angeles, and Brisbane.

Shropshire Council will take a decision on the application at a later date.

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