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Hove school ordered to dim its playing field lights after planning breach
Hove sports clubs have been forced to turn off the lights, just weeks after opening a new practice area.
Every week, hundreds of people use the £900,000 all-weather pitches at Blatchington Mill School in Nevill Close, Hove.
However, after complaints from neighbours about the lights breaching planning laws and streaming into their homes, they now must be turned off at 6.15pm every day.
It has meant Brighton and Hove Hockey Club (BHHC), which shares the facilities with the school and other sports teams, has had to cancel training at the site for the foreseeable future.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It has been horrendous. The glare from some of the floodlights is such that even with the curtains closed, we’re blinded by them.
“We’re not anti-school, anti-hockey or anti-sport. It’s just too large a development for the site.”
Planning permission for the development was granted by the local authority in August 2011. About 360 people supported the plans, which were backed by Hockey England, and 120 opposed them.
The 12 floodlights, which are each 60ft high and dotted around the pitches, are about 60 metres away from about 40 properties in Nevill Avenue and Holmes Avenue.
After the pitches were opened in September, the first complaints were received by the council days later. The school has now been told it is breaching two planning conditions about the brightness and visibility of the bulbs.
The voluntary ban was enforced from yesterday but if the school operates outside of this time, the local authority said it would start formal enforcement action.
Ward councillor Dawn Barnett said: “It’s worse than Blackpool seafront. I’m hoping it will be sorted as quickly as possible as the council has taken far too long in acting on this.”
Cameron Heath, a BHHC development officer, said he had only been informed of the issue on Friday and engineers were on site yesterday trying to sort out the problem.
Training had been cancelled but some of the senior sides were looking for alternative venues in the short term.
Mr Heath said: “It certainly was not our intention to inconvenience anybody or disrupt anybody’s lives.
“It’s a balance between making sure the light levels are safe on the pitch and limiting the spill beyond it.
“We have acted as quickly as we can. Once we have the engineers’ test report we can send it the council and hopefully lift the ban.”
In a letter to residents, the local authority said: “The school have agreed to carry out the necessary works to ensure these conditions were complied with as soon as possible.”