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70cm shorter and more bushes to solve Oakfield refurb concerns

70cm shorter and more bushes to solve Oakfield refurb concerns

Wednesday 26 January 2022

70cm shorter and more bushes to solve Oakfield refurb concerns

Wednesday 26 January 2022


The Government is hoping its bid to get a sports centre refurbished as part of a £100m sports plan won’t be rejected again after making the building 70cm shorter and adding more bushes.

Back in October, the Planning Committee expressed concerns about parking around Oakfield and the building design, with former Planning Minister Deputy Steve Luce describing the proposed extension as "cheap", "lightweight", "temporary"-looking, and too big for the site.

The £3.1m renovation plans included new changing rooms, a teaching areas and offices over the existing playing courts. They formed part of a wider £100m project to improve Jersey's sports offering.

Built using a temporary frame and fabric structure, the revamped Oakfield would provide indoor sports such as basketball, baseball, badminton, trampolining, five a side football and cricket nets, according to documents submitted as part of the planning application.

Under the refurbishment plans, the existing sports hall would also converted into a gymnastics venue, with a sprung floor. 

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Pictured: The initial plans for Oakfield were rejected in October.

The Planning Department recommended that the planning application should be refused due to the size of the building: 67.5m long, 39.2m wide and 12.7m high, in a “very open and visible location”. Its design, form and scale were also deemed to have a “visually harmful impact” on the character and appearance of the surrounding area.

The Planning Committee was split over the application, with Constable Philip Le Sueur and Deputy Graham Truscott supporting it, whilst Deputies Steve Luce and Jeremy Maçon rejected it. St. Clement Constable Marcus Troy, meanwhile, said he was conflicted as a new member of the panel and chose to abstain. As a result, Constable Le Sueur said the status quo had to be maintained and the application was refused.

The Government has since submitted new plans for the facilities, but the changes to the scheme appear to be minimal. 

The majority of the latest Design Statement submitted in December is identical to the version submitted as part of the first application. Only one page has been added, listing the different policies the plans is said to respond to.

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Pictured: The £3.1m project to revamp Oakfield received the largest grant out of the Fiscal Stimulus Fund.

The page also indicates that, following the rejection of the first application, the height of the building has been reduced by 700mm “without affecting the provision inside”.

“The building shape and size is determined by the activities within - clear heights for sports such as netball and basketball dictate the size of the structure,” it is noted.

In addition, a white translucent fabric has been used only on the roof and upper parts of the gable, whilst a grey membrane will be used on the sides with timber cladding added to the sides.

Explaining the choice of the fabric, the document describes it as a “sustainable approach” as it allows daylight to provide lighting during the day.

“The revisions to the building elevations improve the architectural quality of the building as well as lessening the impact on the local context,” the new design statement adds.

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Pictured: The new plans are proposing to hide the building behind greenery along Wellington Road.

Finally, the new plans include additional planting to the south of the building as well as along Wellington Road to limit the view to the new structure and reduce 'light spill' onto the road.

The £3.1m project to revamp Oakfield received the largest grant out of the Fiscal Stimulus Fund, as part of the Government’s £100m wider 'Inspiring Active Places' strategy, which aimed to empty Fort Regent in preparation for its own revamp.

Speaking after the Planning Committee refused to approve the application, Andy Scate, the Director General for Infrastructure, Housing and Environment, said it would have a significant knock-on effect on the future of Fort Regent.

“What we do with this iconic landmark and its future will have to be looked at again,” he said.

As the rejection of the application led to a delay in the project, Government officials are also having to reconsider the project's funding source.

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