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New plans for Stafford Rugby Club as dispute with residents threatens vital cash

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Stafford Rugby Club is in a race against time to settle a planning ruck which could threaten up to £500,000 worth of funding.

The club has submitted a fresh application to relocate after an ongoing dispute over the original planning permission threw vital funding into doubt.

The borough council gave the green light for the move, which would see a new site on Doxey marshes, last year but that decision has now gone to a judicial review as residents raised questions on the planning process.

How the club's new base could look in Blackberry Lane – although up to £500,000 worth of grants have now been left in the balance

It could take months for the situation to be resolved which would scupper time-sensitive grants the club was hoping to get, including £480,000 from Sport England to install an artificial pitch.

That would result in the multi-million pound scheme to move the club from Newport Road to Blackberry Lane being downgraded.

As a result the club has now resubmitted the plans, hoping the new application could be given the go-ahead before the dispute over the previous proposal comes to a conclusion.

Director Martin Lennon said: "The legal situation is not decided. In the meantime the club has taken the decision that given the uncertainty around that, to submit a new application to the borough council.

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"The judicial review could take too long and we just want to get on with it. We have a lot of grant money that is time dependent including half a million from Sport England.

"We will still move forward and still build it either way but it won't be as good as it could be if we get all of the funding."

He added: "It boils down to whether the old regulations or the new regulations were followed through the planning process. I can't speak for the motivations of the residents other than to say they want to try their best to delay this."

Some nearby residents have opposed the new site

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The project is worth £3.5m in total and would see a new clubhouse built at the new site at Doxey Marshes.

More than 100 residents who live near the new site have objected mainly over traffic.

A campaigner said: "We don't deny the club needs better facilities, but it would be better to do it where they can expand."

The borough council was not in a position to comment when approached by the Express & Star on Friday.

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