Campaign group’s concerns over phasing of rugby club’s move to UEA
PUBLISHED: 16:33 16 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:33 16 September 2018
Archant Norfolk 2016
An environmental campaign group has expressed concern over the proposed phasing of Norwich Rugby Club’s move to a university.
The club was granted permission in 2016 to relocate to the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Colney Lane playing fields.
But the plans have been put on hold due to a highways issue at the club’s existing site in Beeston Hyrne, just north of Norwich.
Now the UEA has applied to phase the development in order to push ahead with the scheme.
It wants to build the proposed car park before the rest of the facilities are constructed.
But John Elbro, chairman of the Yare Valley Society, said he had concerns about the UEA’s application to South Norfolk Council.
He said “doubts” had arisen as to the rugby club’s ability to finance the new facility.
“One possible, perhaps probable, outcome is only car parking is built,” he said.
“The disturbing aspect then is that a development will have taken place without the close public scrutiny that would have be given to a stand-alone application for car parking in the protected green space of the Yare Valley.”
Norwich Rugby Club had planned to fund its move to the UEA through the sale of its existing site to housing developers.
But in August club president Andy Pott revealed that a council requirement for a roundabout could jeopardise the move.
He said the roundabout at its current site could cost between £1m to £2m to install, leaving the club with far less to spend on its new facility.
A spokesman for the UEA said: “Timescales regarding when the rugby club will be in a position to enter into a long lease for the land are currently unknown, as negotiations between the club and the developer are yet to conclude and local council decisions are yet to be made.
“Therefore, the university is keen to implement the planning permission in order to allow for the rugby club negotiations to conclude, and to also provide additional parking for users of the sports area and nearby facilities on the Norwich Research Park.”
The car park will be for 168 spaces and overflow parking for up to 60 cars.
The rugby club’s new facility will include new sports pitches, a new pavilion/club house, which would include a café club room and bar.