The Co-Operative Group: Unwin Road, Sutton in Ashfield

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An outline planning application for 18 homes on a site designated as a sports pitch.

The Co-operative Group owns an area of land to the east of Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, which is currently designated as a sports pitch in Ashfield District Council’s Local Plan.  Although the rear of the site was used as football pitches, an area to the front of the site was fenced off and had not been used as playing pitches for at least ten years.


The key challenges for this project were overcoming the objections raised by both the Council and Sport England to building on homes on a designated playing pitch.  Ensuring that the development remained viable was also a concern.

Our Role

To overcome the resistance from Sport England, NJL provided detailed analysis of the playing pitches and green space in the local area based on the Council’s own evidence base.  This demonstrated that redevelopment of the site would not lead to a loss of usable playing pitches.  Further evidence was provided by a playing pitch specialist to support that case.

NJL also carried out an assessment of the Council’s five-year housing land supply to demonstrate that there was an urgent need for new homes in the borough.

Once the Council’s support for the redevelopment of the site was secured, attention shifted to agreeing an appropriate level of planning gain.  This involved working with the Coop to produce a viability assessment demonstrating that a lower level of financial contribution than that which the Council had requested was the only way the site could come forward.


The application was granted planning permission in January 2014.  As a consequence of the work carried out on the supply of playing pitches in the area, the Coop is currently considering whether to bring forward an application on the remainder of the site. 

Unwin Road 2