CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish sports facilities and build an indoor athletics track have been approved.
More than 90 residents around Rowley Park objected to the plans put forward by Stafford Borough Council amid concerns about an increase in traffic and noise.
The plans include the demolition of the existing sports pavilion and outbuildings which will be replaced by two new buildings including the track, changing rooms, offices and public toilets.
Resident Marion Reeves, of St John’s Road, told a meeting of the council’s planning committee: “This type of proposal should be provided in a location with easier access, perhaps a brownfield site would be more appropriate.
“Open space is a very valuable need for the community as a whole and we have to preserve it not only for now but for future generations.”
Consultant David Gibson said the application was submitted to take advantage of Olympic legacy funding which would otherwise be lost.
Ward Councillor Patrick Farrington said he was an avid sports fan and had played or watched many sports but that the development was in the wrong place.
“There are many alternative sites, brownfield sites, in the borough that would have this facility,” he said.
“This is not about the need to provide sporting facilities in the borough, it’s about where it’s proposed to be sited. It will have a severe detrimental effect on local residents.”
His ward colleague Councillor Anne Hobbs said there was a risk of flooding.
Councillor Ian Hollinshead said: “The idea is right but the car parking is an issue and they haven’t really thought about it.
They have just built on car parking space and there’s not going to be room for coaches on there.”
Planning manager Mr Holmes said: “It’s not envisaged there will be coaches every day or every week. It’s for a small minority of events that may take place there.”
Councillor Bill Simpson said: “(Rowley Park) was supposed to be a community park for the people of Stafford, not for the whole of the county or the whole of the Midlands. This is going that little bit too far.
"Before we know where we are most of the open space will be eroded so there will be no space for people wanting a casual kick about.
“Let’s give a thought to the people around there. The traffic if this goes ahead will increase 10-fold and the Highfields estate will not cope with it.”
Councillor Andrew Harp said: “We can’t sit back as dinosaurs, we have got to go forward, not back.
"The money is available, we should grab it with both hands.”
Councillor Geoff Rowlands said: “I hadn’t realised how much car parking was going to be taken away.”
Chairman Councillor Ray Sutherland used his second casting vote to approve the application after votes were tied.