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Major sports facilities at Eton College given green light despite greenbelt worries

A state-of-the-art sports centre and an aquatics centre at Eton College have been given the green light by councillors.

The leading independent boarding school has been given planning approval to replace its ‘dilapidated and overgrown’ outdoor pool with a new aquatics centre featuring a 25-metre pool that will be suitable for swimming, water polo and teaching.

It will also build a sports centre in Common Lane with facilities including a rifle range, eight squash courts, a sprint track and climbing wall. The facilities will also be open for community use.

The application, which was discussed at the Windsor Urban Development Management Panel on Wednesday night, had been recommended for refusal by planning officers for being harmful to the greenbelt.

However all 11 councillors voted against officers’ concerns and approved the application.

Speaking at the meeting, Eton College headmaster Simon Henderson said: “Our boys learn as much outside the classroom as they do inside.

“Our sporting provision is fundamental to that. We know we are asking to develop in the greenbelt but we are doing so with very high-grade designs and will transform the derelict site.”

Mr Henderson said construction was likely to start next summer, with the proposed aquatics centre completed by late 2020.

The school sports centre would follow with a target completion date in late 2022.

Cllr Phillip Bicknell (Con, Park), vice-chairman of the panel, said: “To be in the area for nearly 600 years means [Eton College] have obviously got things right.

“It would be difficult to understand why we can’t make sure they keep up with the competition to supply the best sporting facilities.”

Addressing concerns about the greenbelt, Cllr Ed Wilson (Con, Clewer South) said ‘the buildings are not

impacting significantly on the local conservation area’, while Cllr Eileen Quick (Con, Clewer East), praised Eton College for ‘doing everything' to mini-mise the impact on the greenbelt.


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