Queen's Park school needs answer on controversial 3G pitch

QPCS pupils among supports of a 3G pitch at their school

QPCS pupils among supports of a 3G pitch at their school - Credit: QPCS

A Queen's Park headteacher says a flood-lit 3G pitch is needed on school grounds to nurture more local sporting excellence so that bad weather cannot stop play.

Queen's Park Community School (QPCS), in Aylestone Avenue, put in their application for an artificial turf pitch, floodlighting and fencing in May 2020 but local opposition means it hasn't gone before Brent's planning committee.  

QPCS PE teacher in front of muddy sports pitch     

QPCS PE teacher Laura Williams in front of muddy sports pitch - Credit: QPCS

The new pitch is planned for school land adjoining Tiverton Green, a space which was previously used for sports pitches.

Community groups such as the Queens Park Sharks to the Brent Centre for Young People support the idea.

The school said the 3G pitch will be reserved for community use for at least 90 minutes a day, and then available for commercial lettings.

“Our bid for a 3G pitch is a resource to improve quality of life for our 1,300 students, generations yet to come to QPCS and for community groups who can make use of a great new local resource,” said QPCS headteacher Judith Enright.

QPCS has produced "outstanding top-flight footballers" including Dominic Thompson, Osman Kakay, Caleb Watts and Eartha Pond.

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She added: “We consistently win Brent and Middlesex football competitions. But our continued sporting excellence requires better facilities that can support our players to train throughout the year.

“The school is keen to introduce A level PE but these plans have had to be delayed because our existing practical teaching spaces are fully used.”

QPCS's year 11 football team are forced to play on waterlogged pitches

QPCS's year 11 football team are forced to play on waterlogged pitches - Credit: QPCS

Heavy rainfall makes the school’s grass pitches unplayable and during winter months pupils are unable to use the existing outside spaces after school because of lack of light.

Year 9 student Adi said: “Sometimes our grass pitches are waterlogged and that means it affects our learning – we can’t use it for PE, can’t use it for matches.”

Another reason the school wants the application pushed through is to deal with pupils' mental health issues and rising obesity rates brought on by the pandemic. 

Ms Enright continued: “Lockdowns have affected the mental health of people locally. A new 3G pitch at QPCS will help with community recovery, and offer opportunities for groups to connect.

"With people afraid to go on public transport given the additional risks of coronaviruses, an additional local facility that people can walk to will support both physical and mental health.”

Clubs in the area such as Queens Park Sharks have said they would offer more coaching, if they had the space available.

The school said objections included claims that "are simply untrue", for example a leaflet was circulated to local homes stating that 3G pitches are a cancer risk.

This is also refuted by the FA which said: "Third generation or 3G artificial grass pitches are recognised as durable, safe, year-round playing surfaces, able to withstand intensive use and all kinds of weather."

Neighbours of Queen's Park Community School oppose 3G football pitch plans and premises licence thre

Neighbours of Queen's Park Community School oppose 3G football pitch plans and premises licence threat. Picturre: Jörg Mohaupt - Credit: Archant

Concerns include the loss of green space, that the pitch is at odds with the quiet, residential area that it is planned for, balls hitting metal fences until 9pm, the rubber particles that make up the astroturf and bright lights which also impacts on the local environment and animal welfare.

Ms Enright said: "The school has adjusted its plans to address fully all concerns raised.

"The lighting now proposed uses technology to ensure there will be no impact on the local area, which is already very brightly lit by LED street lighting.”

A Brent Council spokesperson said: "We welcome public engagement with planning applications and this one has attracted a lot of interest from those both in support of the proposal and against it.

"Officers have been working hard with the agents for the school to ensure that all the appropriate environmental information is submitted and scrutinised. This has taken some time.

"The school’s NCIL funding is not at risk and the application is currently scheduled to go to committee on 15 December."

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