Wimborne Rugby Club expansion plans rejected by councillors
WIMBORNE Rugby Club was told on Tuesday that rather than create a new base on land at Manor Farm off Ham Lane in Ferndown, it should remain in Wimborne and develop the site proposed in the new local plan to the south of Leigh Road.
Members of East Dorset District Council's planning committee were near unanimous in accepting the refusal recommended by their officers of the application by the club and Stour Valley Properties (Dorset).
Only two of them supported the scheme to provide four full-size pitches, a training ground, clubhouse and car park for 140 vehicles whose scale was said by officers to conflict with green belt planning policy and would generate too much vehicular traffic.
The public gallery was full to hear the debate, in which there was full agreement with the comments of planning consultant Nick Patterson-Neale that the club was severely restrained by the residential location of its current ground at Leigh Park.
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He highlighted the clear indication of support from the local community in over 100 letters of support, and said the application was vital to secure the long term future of the club.
Club chairman Mike Moysey said they needed to move further out from the town centre, and this was an opportunity to secure long term facilities which might not be the only solution, but not one they could allow to go by.
"The club is in its 65th year, but its not ready for retirement yet," he said.
But Councillor Ann Warman said: "This is not the right site. There is a major concern over encroachment on the green belt, the floodlighting and the impact on wildlife, and we have identified a more appropriate site."
Her proposal for refusal was seconded by Councillor Spencer Flower, who said: "We have spent eight and a half years preparing a core strategy which is subject to consultation. If we didn't have that coming through I would have a lot of sympathy for this application. But we have justified exceptional circumstances for using the other site in a strategy which continues to protect the green belt."
The proposal in the core strategy will concentrate a number of sporting facilities in the same area.
He told the club: "Use your money and design to get something built where it suggests."
Councillor Pat Hymers was one of the few to speak up for the application saying: "We have been waiting a long time for a new rugby club, and we know it has to be in the green belt. We should have been given a comparison of the two sites, and I can see the advantage in this, mainly for the opportunity of a new clubhouse."
She said it could be years before they secured the money for a decent facility on the site in the core strategy, and there could be an advantage in separating the rugby and football.
Councillor Robin Cook said he had welcomed an opportunity at long last to get the club relocated, but the devil was in the detail and they had to consider the options.
"We are often accused of fragmented planning, and green belt issues aside, the core strategy does give more appropriate facilities for the community at large. It also may be a minor issue, but important, that Wimborne Rugby Club should remain in Wimborne, so I support the officers' recommendation."