Rugby club granted premises licence for new Stafford ground
A Stafford sports club has been granted a premise licence for its new grounds after a long-running battle with neighbours which reached the High Court.
Stafford Rugby Club is relocating from its ground near Newport Road to a new site at Blackberry Lane, near Doxey Marshes, after securing planning permission for the move in 2016.
Residents living near the new ground fought against the plans and even took their battle to the High Court.
Concerns raised included potential loss of open space on the Virginia Park estate for an access road and the siting of facilities on land affected by flooding.
And the latest application to Stafford Borough Council – this time for a premises licence for the new clubhouse, also received objections from residents. Nine people wrote to the council, questioning the need for a closing time of 12am on weekdays and 2am on weekends.
Resident Mark Bate, speaking at a licensing sub-committee hearing on Monday, raised concerns that the site could become a “destination venue for music events” as well as a sports club.
He said: “There have been two matches played there on a test basis and there was shouting and swearing going on. We have children there and it is going to cause an awful lot of disturbance.
“To have carte blanche to open until 2am I think is wrong for a sports club. I understand there are certain dates in the calendar that are applicable and they can apply for a late licence – but not have the club open until 2am. It will end up as a commercial place to have live music over the course of time.
“There was no information about this and no consultation. Residents are upset about it and so am I – it’s just 20m from my house to the rugby club.”
But Barry Fuggle from Stafford Rugby Club, which has been based at Castlefields for 70 years, said the proposed new premises licence was similar to that covering its current site.
“We have been testing the (new) pitch – I believe we are not going to be there until everything is completed at the club,” he told Monday’s hearing.
“The club was re-orientated to address concerns of residents, by putting all the entrances, doors and windows facing away from houses.
"The entrance was going to be Timberfield Road but that was changed to go down Blackberry Lane – cars are not going to be driving past people’s houses and people are not going to be walking past houses.
“We have worked very hard with the responsible bodies and listened to the concerns expressed by residents at the time of the planning application. We had to go through a complete re-draw of the clubhouse to make sure the sound was going away from houses.
“We’re a community club and we’re open to everybody. We want to be as good a neighbour as we possibly can.”
The committee granted the premises licence as applied for.
Councillor Ann Edgeller, who chaired Monday’s hearing, said: “Please use the club licence responsibly and please take into consideration the concerns of neighbours.”