Plan to improve facilities at Epping Upper Clapton Rugby Club take major step forward

Rugby / Tue 4th Aug 2020 at 07:54am

PLANS to improve facilities at Epping Upper Clapton Rugby Club with a new all-weather pitch and function room – and an enabling development of nine houses – have met with no objection from North Weald Bassett Parish Council.

The club, in Upland Road, Thornwood, also wants to relocate its floodlights, demolish its old clubhouse and provide additional parking.

The properties – three semi-detached houses and a terrace of three houses – would be built on a previously-used overflow car park.

Each property would have off-street parking and a rear private garden.

Club chairman Paul Donnelly, speaking at last night’s (Monday) parish council planning committee meeting, described the club as “the largest sports club in Epping Forest”.

He told the meeting: “We are a very open environment club. We support the community. We’ve been shut since March 14 however other sports have been able to go back in.

“We set up a COVID-19 testing station last week. Epping Town Football Club could not train pre-season so they’ve been training free of charge, Epping Youth the same.

“Active Essex are running six weeks of activities for children and last week they had on average 58 children a day.

“There is no sign of rugby coming back at the moment (because of the COVID-19 situation) but we can still make these facilities available.”

Mr Donnelly added: “You can see what we are doing for the community. This would give us the finances to thrive not just to survive. We need this facility and so does the community.”

He said there would be 218 parking spaces under the “new regime” compared to the current 98 spaces.

Parish council clerk Sue de Luca reported the objections received from three residents which expressed concerns over issues such as the impact on the street scene, concerns over the “urbanisation” of the area and the appropriateness of the development in the Green Belt.

Other issues highlighted were the floodlights, car park, traffic speed and concerns over wildlife, damage to flora and fauna, the loss of hedgerow and the function hall use.

Councillor Sheila Jackman said: “It is a community facility and they do seem to be doing a lot of work with young people in the community that isn’t just rugby.”

Councillor Dick Spearman said: “If anyone was doing this now – 17 houses – any developer would have to do 40 per cent ‘affordable’ housing. Doing it this way (through two applications) doesn’t look good.”

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