Published: 11:56, 04 October 2019
| Updated: 11:57, 04 October 2019
A new athletics track will provide 'fantastic' facilities for young people.
Councillors sitting on Folkestone and Hythe District Council's (FHDC) planning committee unanimously approved the plans for the facility at Three Hills Sports Park, in Cheriton Road, Folkestone at their meeting last week.
It will include a 400m eight lane running track, with two 100m straights, and a facility for field events - such as javelin, shot put and high jump - in the centre.
The scheme, put forward by Folkestone Running Club, also includes plans for a new pavilion which will house changing facilities, toilets and a café.
An additional 156 seats for spectators will also be created.
Danielle Inglestone, a running club member who spoke at the meeting, said currently athletes have to travel 25 minutes by car to reach similar facilities, at either Ashford's Julie Rose Stadium or the one at the Canterbury Academy.
Those without access to cars have to travel by public transport.
She said the distance and cost of this journey could "discourage young talent from coming forward, especially from more deprived parts of the district".
She added that the new track at Three Hills would provide a "readily accessible safe environment for sport which can be accessed by all in the district".
Cllr John Collier (Con) welcomed the application, adding that it was a "fantastic facility".
He said: "The young people need it, it encourages them to get out. And no doubt schools would benefit too."
Fears about the noise the PA system and starting pistols would create and the brightness from lights were raised by a neighbour who spoke at the meeting.
Cllr Jennifer Hollingsbee (Con) said: "I think the applicant has taken on board the points raised by the resident who was against this.
"It seems to me everything possible has been done and if they are switched off at 9pm/9.15pm then that seems to me quite sensible.
"With regards to the sound system I'm not sure how you can run a running track with schools in competitions without having some kind of sound system. I can't see any conditions in regards to the sound system (in the application).
"I too think this is something we should endorse and welcome into the area. And for our schools in particular this will be an amazing facility."
Since the project was first announced in January, FHDC have received 21 letters objecting to the plans, and 18 in support.
Sport England (SE), a non-departmental public body, had previously objected citing the loss of the community playing field, used largely for football matches, as the reason.
But it withdrew its objection last month as "alternative sites" for football matches had now been found.
In addition, a Change.org petition which has been gauging support for the track has accumulated 745 signatures.