Air Soft War Games plan at former clay pigeon shooting site rejected by planners


A retrospective planning application to allow “Air Soft Play” War Games on a former clay pigeon shooting site on land at Rixton-with-Glazebrook, Warrington, has been rejected by town planners.

Owls Hoot Target Club, Prospect Farm Prospect Lane, Rixton-with-Glazebrook, Warrington, WA3 6EH, had previously failed in a bid for a Non-Material Amendment to allow the use of the site for ‘Air Soft Play’ War Games and has now been refused full planning permission by Warrington Borough Council planners.

Planning permission was being sought to regularise the use of the site for ‘Air Soft’ games (war games involving the use of air-fired BB guns), alongside the existing consented uses on the site. Air Soft games are classed as a sui-generis use under the Use Classes Order 1987. The application advises that the site has been used for Air Soft games since February 2022. Permission was sought to enable Air Soft games to take place between the hours of 08:00 to 16:00 on a Sunday.

There were objections from Rixton with Glazebrook Parish Council and two members of the public who said there would be increased traffic on single track lanes.

The existing site has permission for use as a clay pigeon shooting club, with facilities for archery and air rifle shooting, a clubhouse and associated parking. This permission was granted in 2014 following an appeal against a refused application and a Public Inquiry. The 2014 permission description is “Change of use to provide a clay pigeon shooting club, clubhouse and associated parking”.
The site was initially occupied by the ‘Prospect Target Club’ until early 2022. Subsequently, a new business occupied the site and introduced ‘Air Soft’ games on a trial basis, unaware that additional planning permission would be required.

Notwithstanding this, there are concerns in relation to the impact of the proposal on the local highway network. The additional traffic movements could potentially impact on highway safety and the amenity of residential properties within the area, as highlighted in the public representations received during the consultation.
The Council’s Highways Officer has raised a holding objection to the application, on grounds that insufficient information has been provided in relation to number of visitors and vehicle movements and general management of the site. It is noted that the Officer has based this on the assumption that Air Soft games would operate alongside the existing uses and not in
Access to the site is via unadopted single-track roads, which are also designated as Public Footpaths. All these roads and are in poor condition and generally unsuitable for any significant volumes of traffic. Access is possible from the south and Hollybush Lane, a private road which runs north from the A57 Manchester Road for around 2 km long.

Planning officers say it is clear from the supporting statement and discussions during the application that it is the desire to run this permission alongside the existing planning permission which allows for Clay Pigeon Shooting and other ancillary uses during certain hours from Monday to Saturday. The Local Planning Authority is of the opinion that this would not be procedurally possible, as a new, independent permission would conflict and be incompatible with the conditions of the existing permission.
It has been recommended that a new application should be submitted to replace the existing consent and seek permission for a mixed-use site to cover all the proposed uses. Discussions also took place during the application over whether the Air Soft war games use could be carried out for a certain number of days as permitted development under Schedule 2, Part 4, Class B of the General Permitted Development Order. It has been suggested that a Lawful Development Certificate could be submitted to assess this.
No further instruction or additional information has been provided during the application and therefore the application has been assessed as submitted. In addition to the conflict identified with the existing permission, there is also a lack of supporting detail in relation to vehicle movements and how traffic to the site would be managed. It has not been possible to
assess the impact of the use of the site for Air Soft games on the road network of the surrounding area.
As a result the application has been refused under delegated powers.


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