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Sports club HQ bid under fire

PUBLISHED: 10:29 19 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:03 05 July 2010

A THRIVING community-based sports club is hoping to hit the heights by moving to a new ground in the future.

But the proposed relocation of Lowestoft and Yarmouth rugby club to another site in Gunton came under fire from the Gunton Woodland Community Project this week.

A THRIVING community-based sports club is hoping to hit the heights by moving to a new ground in the future.

But the proposed relocation of Lowestoft and Yarmouth rugby club to another site in Gunton came under fire from the Gunton Woodland Community Project this week.

Last month, The Journal revealed how a blueprint for major development across Waveney had been launched by the district council.

Included among a number of plans were “new rugby pitches, club facilities and other sports provision” for L&Y, either at land west of Dip Farm off Corton Road or at land north of Corton Long Lane.

These proposals would mean that the club moves from their current headquarters at Gunton Park, off Old Lane, to either 13.46 hectares of two areas of land in Gunton (site 190), or 16.58ha of fields on the edge of Corton (site 193).

L&Y vice president Dick Smith this week told The Journal that the club has “become a victim” of its own success.

“Through the ongoing development and expansion of its Youth Section, to around 200 players aged six upwards and growing weekly, plus an extension of senior playing to a fourth team, the club has become a victim of its own success and the facilities at Gunton Park simply do not cope any more,” he said.

“Pitch drainage, pitch availability, lack of floodlights, changing rooms and car parking are all serious areas of concern for the club. Gunton Park has been a wonderful home for us since it was purchased by members back in the early 1960's but the club's needs have changed and a re-location seems now to be the best option open to us.

“We recognise of course that there are likely to be objections from a number of quarters with respect to the proposes change of use on both sites and are happy to work with other interested parties and Waveney District Council to achieve an outcome, which is acceptable to as many of the different voices on this as possible,” said Mr Smith.

The club is looking for a minimum of eight changing rooms (up from their present two), four playing pitches, plus training and mini rugby areas, match floodlights and new clubhouse area.

Kirkley Cricket Club - who also the use the existing site - would again be accommodated by any move, as would squash and tennis facilities.

Although no decisions have been made, concern has been raised about the proposed relocation to Gunton - with the site adjacent to the Gunton Wood Local Nature Reserve.

Gunton Woodland Community Project members are concerned that if the club does get the go-ahead to relocate there would be issues with noise, floodlighting and traffic that will affect the ecological balance of the wood.

There is also major concern that the council has earmarked only these two sites - when other sites could be suggested, and that the consultation period was too short as it encompasses the festive season.

Gunton Woodland Community project chairman Barry Shimmield told The Journal: “I am much in favour of an expanded Rugby Club. It is thriving, it wants to offer additional sports such as tennis, squash and cricket and its aim of including an athletics track should be encouraged.

“This would provide a boost to Lowestoft's sports facilities for our youngsters, especially in view of the interest that will be generated by the 2012 Olympics. These facilities will require a large amount of space, and there should also be room for future expansion,” Mr Shimmield said.

“I believe that there are other sites, which match these requirements better than sites 190 or 193, have very good public access and will not cause potential disturbance to wildlife areas or residential areas.”

Locals can still comment on the framework, as the consultation period ends on January 12. The full documents are available via www.waveney.gov.uk/Planning/Planning+ Policy

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