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Plans to build £15m leisure centre at Charters School approved

Plans for a new £15m community leisure centre at Charters School were given the go-ahead this week – against the recommendation of planning officers.

The application for the Oaks Leisure Centre, which includes a 25-metre, six-lane pool, an eight-court sports hall, a gym and a dance studio, was submitted by head Richard Pilgrim in February.

The centre, for dual use by the school and the community, will complement the facilities at Charters Leisure Centre and those in the school in Charters Road, Sunningdale.

Students, staff and members of the public spoke in favour of the plans at the Windsor Urban Development Management Panel on Wednesday.

Mr Pilgrim said: “To deny nearly 2,000 young people opportunities to develop skills and talents that would make them better equipped for life and its associated stresses would be a travesty.”

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the plans.

Officers had recommended the application be refused on the grounds that the development would be harmful to the greenbelt, that a viable surface water drainage system had not been demonstrated and that poor accessibility would encourage “unsustainable transport”.

The Oaks Leisure Centre will be a partnership between the school and the Royal Borough and will run alongside Charters Leisure Centre.

Residents will be able to use the Oaks seven days a week, including during the daytime.

Cllr Sayonara Luxton (Con, Sunningdale and Cheapside), who is not a voting member of the Windsor Urban Development Management Panel, said: “The benefits of this will extend across both the school and wider community.”

Cllr Shamsul Shelim (Con, Eton and Castle) said the benefits of the facility would bring outweighed any harm to the greenbelt.

“When it comes to children, sports, education, public amenities, I don’t think there is anything heavier than those issues,” he said.

Cllr Amy Tisi (Lib Dem, Clewer East) suggested that the application should be deferred until issues with the drainage system had been resolved.

The panel, meeting at York House, rejected this suggestion and the application was unanimously approved on condition that a satisfactory surface water drainage solution is found.

The plans now need to be approved by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government as they involve greenbelt land.

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