Surbiton High School’s plans for a sports ground - four times the size of its existing facilities on green belt land in Hinchley Wood - have been refused by Elmbridge Council.
The independent school, part of the United Church Schools Foundation, currently has a 33 acre sports ground at Manor Road South.
It includes an all weather hockey pitch, indoor tennis and netball courts, an athletics track and pavilion.
The school submitted plans for a detached building with mezzanine, sports hall which could accommodate six badminton courts or two netball courts, fitness studios, bar area, social space and ancillary stores and changing rooms following the demolition of the existing pavilion.
Chris Fox, speaking on behalf of the objectors, said the complex was almost double the size of Waitrose in Esher.
He said “The inclusion of a bar indicates the school is going to apply for a license to hire out the premises.”
Mr Evans, speaking for the applicant, said the indoor facilities would be available to the public at certain times, which was likely to be some evening and weekend usage, but would be about “meeting needs and desires of residents.”
Mr Evans also said that Ed Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton, supported the building and facilities.
Members of the east area planning sub-committee who attended the meeting on Monday, April 22, expressed their concerns about the plans.
Councillor Janet Turner, ward councillor for Hinchley Wood and mayor of Elmbridge, said the facility would support the school and not the local area and was concerned about the whole application.
Councillor Shweta Kapadia said: “I really can’t imagine why a school is thinking of providing a bar. They should have a responsible approach to drinking.”
Coun Kapadia also said that following a site visit, she estimated 800 to 1000sq m of trees would have to be removed to accommodate the building.
Councillor Karen Randolph said: “The main purpose of the green belt is to prevent urban sprawl. I don’t see how in this case there has been anything close to the very special circumstances which could allow us to agree using this development for indoor sport.”
Councillor Tannia Shipley said the size of the building, 56.2m in length and 45 metres wide, spoke for itself, at over four times the size of the current building.
Councillor Elise Dünweber said: “I think it is a real shame this state of the art facility is on the green belt.”
Councillor Frank Dabell moved for refusal, stating the application had not met the very special circumstances to allow the development on green belt land, due to its height, scale, mass and bulk and that it would be detrimental to the overall character of the local area.
Nine members of the committee voted for refusal of the application.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Fox, a Manor Road South resident, said; “It is really good news. I am pleased they made the right decision on the evidence they were presented with.”
A spokesman for Surbiton High School said: “Since the scheme to provide sporting facilities for Rowan Preparatory School and Surbiton High School was recommended for approval by the planning officers at Elmbridge Council, it is very disappointing that it was refused by the elected councillors of the sub-planning committee.
“The school is currently considering its position with regard to the future of the scheme.”