In a unanimous decision, the city council has granted approval for a new community sports ground in South Bristol, located at Filwood Park playing fields in Knowle West. The project, featuring a multi-use games area (MUGA) equipped with football goals, basketball nets, a netball court, and exercise equipment, faced opposition from nearby residents anxious about potential antisocial behaviour.
Alterations were made to the plans after council officers raised issues regarding noise, light pollution, crime, and possible disturbances to local residents. Key features of the approved development include 8-metre high floodlights with a mandatory switch-off time of 8 pm, lockable gates during the night, a 4-metre mesh fence surrounding the facility, and comprehensive CCTV coverage.
The newly sanctioned sports ground is slated to replace the deteriorating Filwood Broadway MUGA, with the current site designated for housing. Despite receiving 43 objections to the plans, with the closest homes at least 30 metres away, the city council’s development control committee deemed the project deserving of approval.
The committee chairman expressed support for the MUGA during the meeting, stating, “This seems like a logical decision. A MUGA to positively engage young people has to be a commendable idea.” Emphasising the need for responsibility through consultation, he ensured that the management plan aligns with commitments to residents.
Addressing concerns about the impact on the local community, a committee member acknowledged the area’s history of antisocial behaviour but indicated approval due to the inclusion of CCTV cameras. They stated, “While I’m not thrilled with the location, I will be voting to approve.”
Another committee member highlighted the potential positive impact of the MUGA in reducing antisocial behaviour among young people. They expressed support, noting, “If managed well, it will contribute to curbing antisocial behaviour by providing young people with a legitimate outlet.”
Expressing concerns about the increased risk of antisocial behaviour and the 24/7 accessibility of the facilities, another committee member voiced reassurance with the imposed floodlighting restrictions, the presence of high-quality CCTV, and the ability to lock the gates at night.
The mayor’s cabinet had previously endorsed £300,000 towards the project in April 2022, with funding sourced from a combination of the local authority and Filwood’s Levelling Up government funding.
The report submitted to the committee recognised the inherent challenges of noise and disturbance associated with the MUGA but asserted that the amendments made to the scheme, along with the restrictions imposed, ensure compliance with relevant policies. The local planning authority concluded that the proposal does not pose a significant threat to the amenity of surrounding residential properties and is outweighed by the community, recreation, and health benefits associated with the new MUGA facility.
In summary, despite objections and concerns raised by residents, city councillors deemed the proposed community sports ground as a positive addition to the area. The decision reflects a careful consideration of potential issues, with the implemented modifications aimed at mitigating the impact on the local community. As the development progresses, ongoing community engagement and vigilant monitoring will be crucial to ensuring the success and positive integration of the new sports facility in South Bristol.