COUNCIL bosses have stressed that the two consultation events about bringing a much-needed Sports Zone to the South Somerset area are not about choosing a site or discussing preferred sites.

The council has announced this morning that it has invited more than 100 schools, sports clubs and local organisations to help decide how potential locations for a much-needed regional sports facility in the Yeovil area should be evaluated.

The consultation meetings are very much the first stages of the site re-appraisal process, and are designed to get valuable feedback and ideas from the public about how the short-listing process should take place once the council gets a list of possible sites following the reappraisal work being carried out by consultants Alliance Planning.

At the moment Alliance Planning are seeking to find all of the potential sites that exist, which could possibly accommodate the proposed Sports Zone, and this list will not be complete or sent back to the council until around July time.

Once it is complete, all of the work will be shared and consulted upon with the public at a planned public exhibition.

A spokesman for South Somerset District Council said: “The idea is to really involve local people in the process of site selection.

“However it must be remembered that this is just to guide South Somerset District Council on the best possible site on which to submit a planning application for. Any plans would have to go through the normal planning application process which is subject to further consultation.

“It’s important that the district council does this groundwork before submitting a planning application, to make sure there are no obvious ‘show stoppers’ or issues that would immediately make future work on that site difficult.”

The news follows-on from heated arguments a couple of years ago when the council unveiled Sports Zone plans to be built on the Yeovil Recreation Ground site at Mudford Road.

A campaign launched by residents against the loss of open green space resulted in the scheme going back to the drawing board after councillors voted against supporting the preparation of a planning application for the Yeovil Recreation Ground site.

Councillors did, however, support the idea of the Sports Zone when they met in January 2009 but opposed the submission of a capital bid for £364,000 to progress the envisaged scheme.

The council spokesman added: “Whilst there was clear support for the concept of the Sport Zone, the decision not to progress with the bid for capital funding was primarily based on concerns over whether Yeovil Recreation Centre was the right location.

“In the face of the concerns of the local community to the proposed site, the council decided not to progress with an outline planning application for the Sports Zone at the Yeovil Recreation Centre.”

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