Approval for rugby club

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MORPETH Rugby Club has scored permanent permission for a new pitch, which its delighted president says will assist the flourishing junior section and develop the grass-roots game in the area.

The Mitford Road-based club’s application was given the nod at last Thursday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee.

Members voted unanimously in favour of the recommendation to approve the plan, to change the use of a field from agriculture to a rugby pitch and playing field.

The club has already been using the Low Ford Field site after winning one-year temporary consent in 2012.

And club president John Price told the Herald after last week’s meeting that securing permanent permission is a massive boost.

He said: “We are delighted that we have managed to get this. It was our long-term plan to use it permanently for rugby.

“A lot of the funding was raised by the junior section of the club, which is flourishing, and they do use the field often.

“This will assist our junior section and help to develop grassroots rugby.”

He thanked Couns Ian Lindley and Andrew Tebbutt for their support over the years.

The permission will allow the club to have flexibility over the use of the site as a full-time sports field to host matches and training sessions. The goal posts at the north-east and south-west ends of the pitch will be permanently retained.

The scheme had received letters of both support and objection from neighbours.

Residents in favour said that the plan would promote health and fitness, instil team-building spirit and help to support and sustain the rugby club.

Objectors raised concerns about highway safety, noise, and impact on ancient monuments, nature conservation and impact on an Area of High Landscape Value.

Morpeth Town Council raised no objection, but said that parking could be an issue and suggested a parking management plan.

Dave Dent, senior highways development engineer, told the meeting that the county council’s highways team didn’t have concerns over highway safety, but added that a traffic regulation order could be added as an informative condition.

Voting in favour of the application, Coun Trevor Thorne said: “One of the great things about a temporary permission is it allows planners to watch the site evolve and keep an eye on it.

“I feel that the planning officers have answered the queries raised by objectors and I don’t feel that giving permission would detract from the Area of High Landscape Value and I think it will work well with local people.”