Letter - Vital issues remain unanswered

I feel I must respond to Councillor Denise Jeffery’s response (Express Feb 22) to Norman Hazell’s letter Express (Feb 15) regarding ‘the council’s plans to destroy the wonderful 19 acre sports grounds off Walton Lane, Sandal.’

As Norman states in his letter the club and sports facilities have been going for more than 50 years and built up a great reputation for a wide range of sports and community activities. The grounds and clubhouse are also well-used by a wide section of the Wakefield community.

The clubhouse and floodlit facilities are accessible during evenings, in particular through the dark nights. The grounds, club and car park, are used for car boot sales, dog shows, a wide range of community activities and social events including many to raise funds for local charities and other worthy causes.

It has been reported locally that plans to relocate the club facilities on a like-for-like basis could cost in the region of £3 to £4m. This sum of money seems a very large amount in the current economic climate. The costs related to developing the existing site for housing will make it extremely expensive and in the current housing market local people are questioning what capital profit, if any, the council is expecting to make and is such a scheme cost effective and financially viable?

Many people in Wakefield are aware also the site has a long and complicated planning history involving various plans to develop the site involving the need to re-site all or part of the club facilities. An outline planning application for residential development of this site was first submitted in 1988. A further planning application was submitted in 2004 to develop the club site for housing and still remains deposited at the council planning services recorded as pending. This is obviously a very usual situation.

Also with regards to the Walton Lane site people are concerned about traffic implications and safety issues particularly with regards to the already dangerous Barnsley Road staggered cross road junction with Walton Lane and Castle Road.

At peak times this route is a very busy route for schoolchildren walking to the three nearby local schools connected by this difficult and potentially dangerous junction. It is also impossible for vehicles to turn right into Walton Lane at peak times from Barnsley direction without going through the traffic lights on red.

After more than 20 years on the drawing board many vital issues remain unclear and unanswered including: the current proposals for re-siting the club, traffic impact assessments and necessary improvement plans, the impact on local schools provision, impact on health care for the elderly and the need for extra hospital provision, drainage and flood risk assessments.

As a local resident and committee member of Sandal Community Association I feel the time is long overdue for the council to provide all key interested parties with a factual update on the latest plans for both the club and proposed housing development. Already people in Sandal are expressing views about the wisdom of re-siting the sports club to a site off Shay Lane in Walton near to the existing Walton Community Centre and Sports and Recreation grounds.

Sandal Community Association has indicted to its members and other Sandal residents that once more details are available they will consider all the implications most carefully and will make any appropriate representations it feels may be necessary.

I hope the council make more effort to engage with the communities involved and arrange a public meeting and exhibition of proposals in the near future to invite comments and feedback on these important strategic proposals.

I look forward to a further response from the council.

Roger Holmes

Walton Lane