Helston Community College has passed the final hurdle to upgrade its sports facilities - despite initial objections from Sports England threatening to throw the whole bid.

The school had asked to change the surface multi-use games area from the agreed grass pitch, next to its new building on north site, to an all-weather pitch and include lighting columns to extend its use.

It argued that as part of the Southerly Point Co-operative Multi-Academy Trust, made up of two secondary schools and 17 primary schools, having an all-weather pitch there would allow it to be used by a large range of children from across the Helston and Lizard area.

The nearest such pitches were in Penzance, Penryn and Falmouth, which was around ten miles from Helston and "significantly further" for schools and football clubs on the Lizard Peninsula, which meant a journey of around 45 minutes to an hour.

The school said: "Helston Community College is fortunate in having in excess of the required grass pitches for its needs.

"As part of the current project to replace a significant number of our buildings, a new Under 12 grass pitch has been included to replace the pitch on which the new block is being constructed.

"However from the school’s point of view, the playing fields we have can be unusable for long periods during the winter months due to water logging.

"The proposed new Under 12 pitch would be of far greater benefit to the school, its partner schools and the wider community as an all-weather pitch and of course would be available much sooner than the proposed grass pitch."

It estimated that the grass would not be ready for use until 2021, whereas an all-weather pitch could be in use from spring or summer of 2020 and would free up space on the current multi-use games area (MUGA) for hockey and handball.

The school's existing facilities are already used by a number of clubs at evenings, weekends and school holidays and it was expected that senior football teams in the area would make use of the all-weather pitch for winter training, as well as five-a-side leagues, with eight clubs showing an interest.

However, Sports England initially objected to the scheme, saying: "Some sports require a grass surface and once grass is lost the chances of the land ever returning to grass are extremely remote.

"Artificial surfaces do not necessarily provide a direct replacement for grass pitch use as they only make a limited contribution to

competitive grass pitch sports use."

After reviewing the plans, however, the organisation decided against raising any formal objection, provided there was community use of the proposed MUGA that had previously been agreed.

As a result Cornwall Council has gone on to this week give conditional planning permission to the surface changes.

In his report, planning officer Peter Gregory said: "The benefits of the all-weather pitch with floodlights are that it offers longer playing hours and can be used as an all-year round facility requiring less maintenance."

Conditions include the all-weather pitch and lighting columns only being used between 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The floodlights must also be positioned in such a way to not shine directly onto the nearest residential properties.