Rotherham Rugby Club faces opposition over playing fields plan

PLANS to encourage amateur rugby by fencing off part of the town’s largest playing fields are coming under fire from campaigners.

Rotherham Rugby Club Ltd has applied for permission to develop an area of Herringthorpe Playing Fields large enough for three floodlit rugby pitches, as it looks to find a permanent home for its amateur and children’s teams.

The development, expected to cost an estimated £200,000 and to be funded by grants and a loan from the Rugby Football Union, could be in place by next summer if approval is granted.

But campaigners insisted this week that no development should be allowed on the playing fields site.

Kath Reeder, from the Friends of Herringthorpe Playing Fields Action Group, said: “We have no objection to encouraging young people to play sport—that’s really what the playing fields are for—but we do not want this to open the floodgates.

“Rotherham Borough Council has expressed an interest in developing housing on the former leisure centre site and that is a huge source of concern for us.

“The playing fields have always been an open public space for people to play, walk their dogs and unwind and we want it to stay that way.”

The Friends group is now preparing a petition in objection to the plans.

They fear that the fencing surrounding the proposed pitches would be detrimental to the appearance of the playing fields and that parking would become an issue.

Light from ten 15-metre tall floodlights would affect nearby properties, campaigners said.

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John McCormick, a director of Rotherham Rugby Club Ltd, said: “Our proposal is quite separate to any other plans that might have been mooted for other parts of the playing fields in the past.

“I can understand concerns that have been expressed to the club, but I think that most can be addressed.”

Mr McCormick said that specialists in directional lighting had been consulted to ensure that floodlighting would shed a minimal glare outside the proposed pitches.

He said that fencing would have a minimal visual impact and that people using the pitches would be encouraged to park at the club’s Clifton Lane clubhouse, where changing facilities and toilets are located.

Mr McCormick added: “We feel that this project would be great for sport in the town.

“The pitches will be available for public use and will be used by the Rotherham Phoenix amateur team as well as our ‘minis’—300 children aged between seven and 17.

“This is something we’re really excited about and we hope that people can see the project for its merits and give us their backing.”