Vale of Glamorgan Council said its proposal to develop Barry land protected by a trust is permitted.

The local authority is looking to knock down the changing rooms at Colcot Sports Centre, labelled “embarrassing” and outdated by council officials and councillors, and build a replacement facility at Buttrills playing fields.

The Colcot Sports Centre building, opened in 1963, and Buttrills playing fields are both protected by Fields in Trust – a charity that oversees the protection of green spaces and parks across the UK.

Concerns have been raised about the council’s proposal by members of the public who live near and use Buttrills playing fields and the land around Colcot Sports Centre for recreation.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesman said: “We have been in discussions with Fields in Trust – our proposals regarding changing rooms are permitted within the terms of deed for the Buttrills recreation ground.

“The deed covering the sports centre relates to the building only.

“Speaking to Fields in Trust regarding the condition of this 1960s building there is an acknowledgement that the building has reached the end of its life.

“These conversations are ongoing including the possibility of delivering a deed of dedication on another piece of open space in acknowledgement that the sports centre cannot provide suitable quality facilities for our communities moving forward.”

Fields in Trust said its protection of land is flexible in terms of recreational development and improvement of a green space through a new changing facility would not need their consent.

Proposals put to council cabinet members in February also include exploring options for the old car park and disused areas of the Colcot centre including include potential use for housing and a new cycle pump track.

One resident, Glyn Pooley, said at a Vale of Glamorgan Council scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, April 2: “How in any way can a proposal to build houses and car parks on green and recreational land… [that] help with people’s wellbeing?

“With an ever-increasing older population in the Vale… these people need access close to where they live to informal recreation as well as formal.”

The council report on the proposals for the Colcot and Buttrills site states the existing sports centre building could be redesigned for housing to generate money for the leisure improvements.

It also states a new car park would also be required.

The leader of the council, Cllr Lis Burnett, attempted to reassure residents the proposal was in its early stages and it would need to go through a number of processes, including consultation and planning, before being taken forward.

It is also hoped that proposals will provide facilities that can meet the needs of women and girls’ football in the area.

Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet member for leisure, sport and wellbeing, Cllr Gwyn John, said the lack of adequate facilities at Colcot and Buttrills has been a “big problem for a long time”.

He added: “Quite honestly they are fortunate to be allowed in the Alliance League because the standards are not [up to requirement].

“[It is] most embarrassing that the largest town in Wales is left without facilities for ladies.” 

A Fields in Trust spokesman said: “For non-recreational development we have a Field Change Request process through which a landowner applies for our trustees’ consent.

“For a disposal we have a policy that the council will have to comply with.

“As yet Vale of Glamorgan Council have not applied for consent in relation to Colcot Sports Centre.

“It will be for the council to propose mitigation for the potential loss of any protected space.”

The spokesman added: “We encourage residents to engage with the planning process when there are changes proposed to any green space in terms of registering their support or an objection.”