LONG-AWAITED major sporting plans at a private school in York have been withdrawn after planning chiefs urged councillors to oppose the scheme.

City of York Council received hundreds of objections to the scheme at St Peter’s School in Clifton, with ward councillors and York Central MP Rachael Maskell among them.

Despite the school first submitting its application in November 2022, the scheme was only due to come before the planning committee next Thursday- albeit with revisions - some 16 months later.

But within 24 hours of the city council publishing the officer’s recommendations, the school suddenly withdrew its application earlier today (Thursday, February 29).


A spokesperson for St Peter’s School said: “With some remaining matters to conclude, and insufficient time now to resolve them, we have taken the decision to withdraw the current planning application.  This will allow us further time to continue our discussions with the Council, and other stakeholders, and to resolve outstanding matters. 

"We remain committed to improving both the transport arrangements in the area and sporting facilities for the school and wider community.  We will provide further updates as we move forward.”

York Press:

St Peter’s School is the fourth oldest in the world and was founded by St Paulinus of York in 627AD. Former pupils include Guy Fawkes.

It had sought to build a floodlit hockey pitch, tennis and netball courts, cricket nets, car and coach parking and waiting area, vehicular access and grounds maintenance hut.

As The Press previously reported, the plans, would have seen Westminster Road being turned from a closed street into a through route for coaches and cars, which residents said would cause chaos.

Ward Councillor Danny Myers also opposed York's Draft Local Plan, which has yet to be adopted, taking the site out of the Green Belt.

Plans were amended during the planning process to address objections on highway, ecology, landscape and flood risk and drainage grounds but this wasn’t enough.

York Press:

The development included a 126 seat viewing stand with spectator standing area, 78 parking spaces, a two lane access road, eight floodlit hockey pitches with 18 floodlights 15 metres high, six floodlit tennis/netball courts with nine floodlights 10 metres high and fencing six metres high; a floodlit cricket and netball practise area with floodlights eight metres high, a grounds maintenance office and a tractor store.

Some community letting/use of the proposal had been suggested as part of the application.

However, council planning staff noted massive objections.

Clifton Planning Panel objected saying the scheme would harm the residential amenity of nearby homes due to the noise and light pollution it would generate.

Public consultation saw 239 objections, including from ward councillor Danny Myers. But there were 117 letters of support.

Objectors said the sports facilities would fuel car use in the area, the floodlighting and noise of players would harm neighbours and more hardstanding would increase flood risk. Trees and wildlife would also be harmed. It was also inappropriate development for Green Belt, which would also harm the setting of the Clifton and Central Historic Core Conservation Areas.

York Civic Trust also said the scheme would harm the setting of such conservation areas and Sport England said the scheme would take space used by cricket.

Assessing the issues council planners agreed the scheme harmed the openness of the Green Belt, and high-density sports use would disturb wildlife such as insects and bats.

But the scheme would improve school facilities, with some available for community use, they noted.

York Press: York Central MP Rachael Maskell

The officers concluded despite such benefits, taking all the factors into consideration, the scheme did not deliver the very special circumstances needed for a development in the Green Belt.

The floodlit hockey pitches with tennis and netball courts would harm the residential amenity of neighbouring properties. The extra traffic generated might be too much for roads in the area to cope with. The scheme would also harm the the local character of the site.

Whilst the site remains in the Green Belt, very special circumstances could not be demonstrated.

“The proposal is therefore unacceptable in planning terms and refusal is recommended," their conclusion added.