Developer Hawksmead seeks permission for new sports venue for Oakham Rugby Club and Royce Rangers FC

Rutland County Council is considering plans that could see the creation of 12 new sports pitches and a new home for Oakham Rugby Club and Royce Rangers Football Club as early as 2012.

The proposal has been submitted by Hawksmead, which hopes to build 1,100 houses on the current rugby club site, the Showground.

It would see farmland north of Oakham bypass transformed to include 4 senior full-size rugby pitches, space for mini-rugby and 8 football pitches of various sizes for Royce's junior teams, as well as changing facilities. 

Hawksmead strategic projects director Paul Bywater said:  "I expect we would use contractors for the sports pitches but we haven't got that far yet. The site has been identified by the council in its preferred options in its direction of development so we would hope it will go through."

The Showground site at Barleythorpe Road has housed the teams since 1966 and is owned by Rutland Agricultural Society. 

Oakham Rugby Club chairman Steve Knight said: "It's in the hands of the council. Until they decide upon the Showground site we are in limbo. If that gets the go-ahead, Hawksmead is prepared to help us with a new site. I suspect it could take several months before any decision is taken but we have to make provisions. Then it will depend upon the economic climate but if all goes to plan it could be as early as 2012."

The submission would satisfy the recent Sport England requirement that any sports fields that are built upon are replaced by developers and planning authorities. 

Conservative councillor and portfolio holder for culture and leisure Peter Jones said: "The council has an obligation to ensure sports requirements are fully catered for and we will take this into account when looking at the proposals for this new development. We need a full commitment from all parties to ensure we maximise this opportunity of providing new and enhanced facilities, not only for rugby and football, but for all clubs at all levels of sport.  If the plan is approved the proposed new site will complement the facilities at the new Catmose sports complex, which is due to be completed by the end of the year."

Rutland County Council said the plan was in its early stages and would undergo extensive planning and consultation during the year.


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