BOLTON School has criticised ‘unreasonable’ council restrictions that could force it to tear up a proposed £780,000 sports pitch after just 12 months.

Last March, Bolton Council gave the school approval to lay a synthetic turf pitch together with floodlighting at its Leverhulme Pavilion sports ground.

However, a condition was imposed stating that the site must be returned to its former condition after a year, following concerns from neighbours about the impact of the development.

Bolton School is now appealing to the Government to remove that condition, as well as a further ‘unenforceable’ restriction on noise levels.

An appeal submitted on behalf of the school by Geraint John Planning states: “The condition without question prevents the appellant from implementing their planning permission, as it could not reasonably be expected for a school to invest a sum of approximately £780,000 for sporting facilities that they may well be required to demolish at the end of a 12-month period and return the site to its former condition.”

It adds: “Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly it is worthy of note that the proposed synthetic pitch will replace an existing sports pitch, and will be no closer to neighbouring properties that the existing pitch."

Philip Britton, headmaster of the school's Boys' Division, said: "The planning application is all about improving facilities for school use, so we have an all weather surface for the boys and girls to use, especially for hockey and lacrosse.

"We were encouraged to share those facilities with the community and are happy to do so in some suitable way.

"The planning permission granted last summer included a last minute clause that could mean we need to take the whole thing down again after a year, which seemed to us a very confusing situation, so we have asked for the decision to be reviewed to provide more clarity."

Objectors to the plans raised concerns over the impact of floodlighting, congestion and parking issues, and the intensification of use of the pitch.

In a statement defending its decision, town hall bosses said: “The council considers that the condition is necessary in order to review the consent over a 12-month period, in the interests of the amenity of surrounding residential uses.

"It is clear that there is a close relationship between the new pitch and floodlights and existing residential properties. Furthermore the intensification of the use would result in usage of the new car park which would itself increase noise levels in and around the new vehicular access to the site.”

It adds: “It is clearly evident from the nature of quantity of objections from local residents that they have concerns over the nature of the proposed development and the hours which would the site would be used.

“The council are supportive of the principle of enhanced sports provision in this location including the provision of a new surface at the site. However, consideration needs to be given to the impact of the proposal.”