PRUE Leith has objected to a school’s plans to install a hockey pitch and playing field.

Plans submitted to West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) have been met by dozens of objections, including by The Great British Bake Off judge, Ms Leith.

The majority of objections relate to the installation of 15m high floodlights at the hockey field.

The proposals have been submitted by Kitebrook Preparatory School, where fees for 2021/22 reach £5,100.

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A planning statement says the project will ‘increase grassroots sport development and enjoyment at the school’.

Upon publication, 34 comments supporting the plans had been made, however 96 objections had been submitted.

Among them was Ms Leith, who highlighted traffic and the floodlights as concerns.

Her objection comment read: “I live about a quarter of a mile from the proposed playing fields and, though I understand the need for sports facilities for children, I just think the proposed development is too large.

“The most important problem I think, would be the run-off of rainwater from such an enormous field which would inundate the Gallaghers’ gallops.

Witney Gazette: Prue Leith. Picture: Flamingo MarketingPrue Leith. Picture: Flamingo Marketing

“They are race horse trainers and their gallops are essential to their livelihood.

“Their farm already suffers, as does ours, from frequent flooding and the land just cannot take any more water.

“Grass pitches would not be a problem, or artificial grass laid on free draining subsoil, but an all-weather surface of such dimensions will put the Gallaghers out of business.

“If a drainage solution satisfactory to the Gallaghers cannot be found, and insisted on in any planning permission, I can only object to the whole scheme.”

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Regarding traffic, Ms Leith’s comment read: “I understand that the school intends for visiting parents who have come to watch matches, to park in the main school car park.

“But unless they police the lane on all match days, mothers (generally driving large SUVs) will inevitably prefer to park in the lane and walk the much shorter route to the sports fields.

“This lane is narrow and drivers already suffer from delays and congestion on hunt days or other events.”

Ms Leith then addressed how the proposal would after her ‘directly’.

Witney Gazette: The entrance to Kitebrook Preparatory School. Picture: Google MapsThe entrance to Kitebrook Preparatory School. Picture: Google Maps

She said: “The proposed 15-metre high floodlights will shine directly at our house.

“We have gone to great trouble not to cause light pollution and one of the joys of living in a rural village is the dark night skies.

“I understand that the intention is not to light the floodlights after 7pm. I would find this acceptable. But would like this restriction built into any planning permission.”

A spokesperson for Ms Leith said she would be offering ‘no further comment’.

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Other objections compared the proposed floodlights to ‘landing zones and communication stations for large alien spacecraft’.

In an objection comment, George Lambrick, chair of The Rollright Trust, which owns and manages the ancient Rollright Stones, said the monuments would be ‘harmed by glow from the floodlighting’.

There was also positive reaction to the plans, with many pointing out the benefits of physical activity on children and their wellbeing, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

To view the planning application, search the WODC planning application portal using the reference number 21/01456/FUL.